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Democratic Republic of Congo: The Observatory condemns the death in prison of lawyer Banzu Misongo Effrem and calls on the Congolese authorities to carry out a thorough investigation

20 June 2023

 On 8 June 2023, the North Kivu Bar announced the death of Mr Banzu Misongo Effrem, a lawyer who had been detained for months in Kinshasa.

According to information received, lawyer Banzu Misongo Effrem was arrested on 23 February 2023 by military intelligence in the town of Goma. On 24 February, the lawyer was transferred to Kinshasa, where he was detained until his death in the military prison known as DMIAP, known for its appalling conditions of detention. During his detention, Mr Banzu Misongo Effrem was deprived of any assistance or visits and his state of health deteriorated seriously. On 8 June, the lawyer’s death was announced without further explanation.

Although the official charges against lawyer Banzu Misongo Effrem have never been known, it would appear that they relate to his activities as counsel for clients convicted of belonging to the ADF/NALU terrorist group[1].

The lawyer’s death follows a tragic wave of repression against lawyers in the province of North Kivu, in the Democratic Republic of Congo. In March 2023, the Observatory alerted the Congolese authorities to the detention of the Honorary President of the North Kivu Bar, Joseph Sanane Chiko, who was fortunately recently released.

The Observatory condemns the death of lawyer Banzu Misongo Effrem and expresses its solidarity with the victim’s family and friends.

The Observatory urges the Congolese authorities to accede to the request of the family of lawyer Banzu Misongo Effrem and to return the body to his family so that they can bury him with dignity. 

The Observatory calls on the Congolese authorities to conduct an independent, impartial and transparent investigation into the still unresolved death of lawyer Banzu Misongo Effrem, and to punish the perpetrators with all due diligence.

The Observatory reminds the Congolese authorities their obligation to guarantee the necessary protection for lawyers to freely exercise their profession, in accordance with the provisions of the United Nations Principles on the Role of Lawyers (1990).