Tshishimbi v. Zaire

Communication No 542/1993
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Tshishimbi (T) had been a military adviser and bodyguard for the prime minister in a government politically opposed to the president. Members of the government and their advisors had been subjected to constant surveillance, harassment and bullying from military and paramilitary groups loyal to the president. T was abducted in March 1993, although the exact circumstances remain unknown, and his whereabouts cannot be ascertained. It is believed that he is or was detained at the headquarters of the intelligence service where ill-treatment of detainees was said to be common.  T’s wife complained about his detention and treatment and the Committee, having regard to Zaire’s lack of cooperation and the impossibility of T’s family having access to him or obtaining reliable information about his whereabouts and state of health, found the communication admissible insofar as it raised issues under Arts 7 and 9. It requested Zaire under ROP r86 to avoid any action which might cause irreparable harm to T.


[Adapted from INTERIGHTS summary, with permission]

The Committee held:

(1) that, while there was no evidence that T was actually detained or arrested, Zaire had not responded to the request to clarify the issue

(2) that in the circumstances there had been a failure to ensure T's right to liberty and security of the person and a violation of Art 9(1)

(3) that, as the removal of T and the prevention of contact with his family and with the outside world constituted cruel and inhuman treatment, there was a violation of Art 7

(4) that Zaire should investigate thoroughly the circumstances of T's abduction and unlawful detention, bring those responsible to justice and grant him and his family adequate compensation.


[Adapted from INTERIGHTS summary, with permission]

INTERIGHTS Comment: There were many other allegations in this communication but they were seen as general and unsubstantiated. The Committee's conclusion was driven by the lack of cooperation by Zaire but the assumption of truth of the allegations seems justified in the circumstances. It reiterated its view that security will not be assured if threats by persons in authority are tolerated, condoned or ignored (see Mojica v Dominican Republic, (1995) 9 Interights Bulletin 18). It is also well-established that incommunicado detention is unacceptable (see M'Boissona v Central African Republic, (1994) 8 Interights Bulletin 88.