Government involvement in DR Congo killing likely: UN expert

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A UN human rights expert said Friday that it looked "very likely" that the government was involved in the death of a leading human rights campaigner in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Floribert Chebeya, head of Voix des Sans Voix (Voice of the Voiceless), was found dead on Wednesday, tied up on the back seat of his car on a road to the west of the capital Kinshasa. His driver is still missing.

"I told the (UN) Human Rights Council this morning that given the background that we know there is no reason at all to think that there will be a meaningful investigation of that killing," said Philip Alston, the UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial executions.

"Particularly since the circumstances make it look very likely that there was a government involvement," he told journalists.

Congolese NGOs have been joined by the United Nations, the European Union, France and bodies like Human Rights Watch and Amnesty international in demanding an inquiry to shed light on Chebeya's death.

Interior Minister Adolphe Lumanu on Thursday expressed regrets and said the government had ordered an investigation.

Alston, who met Chebeya during a mission to the country last October, noted that the situation was "still very dangerous," with continuing massacres in the northeast by the Lords Resistance Army and reports of "grave abuse" by some factions in the Congolese army.

He noted that the DR Congo had told the UN Human Rights Council this week that it rejected his report.

"It is always a very bad sign if a governement is in a total state of denial despite that there are many allegations, carefully documented, coming from different sources, not only my report," Alston said.

© 2010 AFP

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