Mambu v The Democratic Republic of the Congo

Communication No. 2465/2014; UN Doc. CCPR/C/118/D/2465/2014
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Eugène Diomi Ndongala Nzo Mambu was a national of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and president of the opposition political party in the State, challenging the legitimacy of an election.

He alleged that he was abducted in 2012 and held incommunicado for three months and 13 days while being interrogated about his ties with the opposition presidential candidate. Although Mambu’s wife lodged a complaint for Mambu’s kidnapping and detention, the complaint was never investigated.

In 2013, Mambu was arrested and charged with rape. His case came to the Supreme Court. Mambu remained in prison in Kinshasa until his trial despite the Court’s order that he be placed on house arrest. He was convicted and sentenced to 10 years imprisonment.

Mambu claimed that the State violated his rights under articles 9 (right to liberty and security of the person), 10 (persons deprived of their liberty shall be treated with humanity) and 14 (right to a fair trial) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (“the Covenant”).

Mambu alleged that he was subject to ill-treatment during his detention and a recommendation was also made to transfer him to a better equipped facility for treatment but to no avail. He further suffered a stroke, following which he was admitted to a clinic but was forcibly returned to prison before he could receive any treatment.

Mambu also claimed that he was not tried by an independent and impartial court of law and that he had no opportunity to put up a defence and that the charges laid against him were fabricated. He claimed that the State’s actions were aimed at the elimination of him as political opposition.

The State submitted that Mambu’s communication was inadmissible under article 5(2)(a) of the Optional Protocol on the grounds that the basis of the claims was being examined by another international procedure under the International Parliamentary Union.

The Human Rights Committee held the communication admissible. It held that the International Parliamentary Union is not an intergovernmental organization that aims to establish whether a State has fulfilled its obligations under an international human rights convention.

The Committee held that the lack of any investigation into and failure to respond to Mambu’s and his wife’s complaints violated article 2(3), read together with article 9, of the Covenant. Moreover, Mambu’s pre-trial detention in prison beyond the Supreme Court’s order for his placement under house arrest was a breach of internal law, violating article 9(1).

The Committee held that the State’s failure to respond to the author’s allegations that he was deprived of medical care while imprisoned violated Mambu’s rights under article 10(1).

The Committee held that the State’s failure to respond to questions raised about the number of judges during Mambu’s trial violated his fair trial rights under article 14, as did inadequate opportunities to prepare his defence or communicate with his lawyers during the hearing.

The Committee required that the State party “provide an effective and enforceable remedy” and send them information about measures taken within 180 days.

The Committee recalls its general comment No. 31 (2004) on the nature of the general legal obligation imposed on States parties to the Covenant (para. 15), which states that a failure by a State party to investigate allegations of violations could in and of itself give rise to a separate breach of the Covenant.” (para 9.2)

 The Committee also notes the author’s allegations to the effect that, during his hospitalization in December 2013 following his sudden collapse, he was forcibly returned to prison and that the authorities totally ignored the prescription for a brain scan that was issued to him by the Ngaliema Clinic. The Committee points out that the State party does not respond to these allegations specifically but merely indicates that the author was granted transfers from one hospital to another. (para 9.4)

 “In the absence of detailed information from the State party contesting the alleged failure to follow the prescription set out in the above-mentioned medical reports and the author’s forced departure from the hospital in December 2013, the Committee considers that the author’s rights under article 10 (1) of the Covenant have been violated.” (para 9.4)

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