December 6, 2017
On 28 November 2017, human rights defender John Luhiriri was stopped and held by members of the national police and four other plainclothes agents, recognised by witnesses as members of the national intelligence service, in Tshikapa, the capital of Kasai province. His current whereabouts are yet to be established.
John Luhiriri is a human rights lawyer who served as the protection officer for Synergie d’aide prioritaire – Aide d’urgence – (SAP – AU) (Synergy of Priority Aid – Emergency Aid), a Congolese human rights organisation working on issues related to international humanitarian law, and gender-based violence in particular.
On 28 November 2017, John Luhiriri was in Tshikapa on a field mission, during which he was expected to meet local human rights defenders to discuss gender-based violence in the region. At approximately 2:00 pm, he was intercepted by agents of the national police who were accompanied by four plainclothes agents of the ANR – Agence Nationale de Renseignement (The National Intelligence Agency). The officers confiscated his work documents and identity card and then took him to an undisclosed location. Colleagues of the human rights defender have approached local and national police, as well as the local office of the ANR, but have not been able to trace his whereabouts.
Human rights defenders in the Democratic Republic of Congo have been subjected to arbitrary detention and violent attacks, including killings. In 2017, Front Line Defenders has reported on the killings of human rights defenders Tsongo Sikuliwako Alex, Alphonse Luanda Kalyamba, Marcel Tengeneza, the attempted killing of Butoto Kiza and death threats against Philippe Busimba.