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Resolution adopted unanimously by the IPU Governing Council at its 194th session
(Geneva, 20 March 2014)

The Governing Council of the Inter-Parliamentary Union,

Referring to the case of Mr. Eugène Diomi Ndongala, a former member of the National Assembly of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), and to the resolution it adopted at its 193rd session (October 2013),

Referring to the letter of the Speaker of the National Assembly of 19 February 2014, the information provided by the delegation of the DRC at the hearing organized during the 130th IPU Assembly (Geneva, March 2013), and the information provided by the sources,

Referring also to the report on the mission conducted to the DRC from 10 to 14 June 2013 (CL/193/11b)-R.2),

Recalling the following information provided by the sources: Mr. Ndongala, the leader of an opposition political party, has been the target since June 2012 of a campaign of political and legal harassment aimed at removing him from the political process and at weakening the opposition; that campaign has been marked by the following alleged violations: (i) arbitrary arrest on 27 June 2012, the day before Mr. Ndongala was to establish an opposition party platform, followed by unlawful incommunicado detention by the intelligence services from 27 June to 11 October 2012, during which time Mr. Ndongala was allegedly ill-treated; (ii) arbitrary lifting of Mr. Ndongala’s parliamentary immunity in violation of his rights of defence on 8 January 2013; (iii) arbitrary revocation of his parliamentary mandate on 15 June 2013; (iv) baseless and politically-motivated judicial proceedings that disregard the right to a fair trial; (v) illegal remand custody since April 2013; (vi) denial of medical care in prison since the end of July 2013; according to the sources, the campaign against Mr. Ndongala is allegedly being waged because he publicly denounced massive cases of electoral fraud during the 2011 elections and contested the legitimacy of the election outcome; he is blamed in particular of being behind a boycott of the National Assembly that is being followed by about 40 opposition members who have refused to take part in the parliamentary proceedings in protest,

Also recalling that the National Assembly has repeatedly asserted that, since Mr. Ndongala has boycotted the parliamentary institution to which he belonged and questioned its legitimacy, he cannot expect to benefit from its protection,

Also recalling that, according to the authorities, Mr. Ndongala was never held incommunicado but rather fled in late June 2012 to avoid arrest in flagrante delicto proceedings, that, after his immunity had been lifted, he was arrested and remanded in custody and that he is being tried on charges of rape of minors that are unrelated to his political activities,

Recalling lastly that, according to the sources, the accusations that Mr. Ndongala had sexual relations with minors - qualified as rape of minors by the prosecution - are unfounded and a pure fabrication, given that: (i) Mr. Ndongala was not present on the scene of the alleged rape when the police arrived to arrest him “in the act of rape”; (ii) the evidence of rape furnished by the prosecution is based essentially on the statements of the alleged victims and their father, who contradicted each other and have not been corroborated; (iii) the identity of the victims, their age and their parentage have not been established and have instead been contested on the grounds that they are adults, that the person who filed the complaint is not their father but a well-known criminal with several convictions for fraud and that the victims were paid to accuse Mr. Ndongala by a police superintendent and a member of the majority from the same constituency as Mr. Ndongala,

Considering that, according to the sources, Mr. Ndongala’s trial, which took place in camera, was marred by numerous flaws denounced by the lawyers for the defence, in particular the following:

  • Violation of the presumption of innocence and the confidentiality of the pretrial investigation, given the prosecution’s frequent statement to the media stressing Mr. Ndongala’s guilt;

  • Flaws in the case scheduling and notification procedure, which prevented the lawyers for the defence from having access to the court file and preparing their client’s defence before the first hearings were held in July 2013;

  • The fact that Mr. Ndongala continued to be held in custody following the Prosecutor General’s refusal to execute the decisions handed down by the Supreme Court between April and June 2013 ordering that Mr. Ndongala be placed under house arrest;

  • The participation in the hearings of a member from the majority, Mr. Ndongala’s main political opponent in his constituency, who was representing the alleged victims, even though he was not unqualified to do so given his status of attorney in training and his current role as a parliamentarian;

  • The lack of impartiality of certain judges, in respect of whom requests for recusal were filed, and the political pressure said to have been exerted on several judges, as a result of which the composition of the bench ruling on the case was changed in February and March 2014,
Considering the following information provided by the sources: the alleged rape victims first appeared in court on 12 March 2014; the lawyers for the defence observed that their accounts contained major discrepancies casting doubt on their identity, age, parentage and the truthfulness of the accusations against Mr. Ndongala; the lawyers for the defence held that the court broke the law and violated the rights of the defence by refusing to apply Article 640 of the Family Code and to defer a decision pending a ruling by the civilian court on the dispute relating to the identity and parentage of the alleged victims; the lawyers objected to the court’s decision and left the hearing in protest; instead of suspending the hearing, the court decide to stop the judicial proceedings and asked the prosecution to present its closing arguments in the absence of the lawyers for the defence and, according to the sources, even though the examination of the case was not ended and neither the accused nor the defence witnesses had been heard by the court; the prosecution asked for a sentence of 14 years in prison, and the court retired to consider its decision; when they learned, the following morning, that the court had withdrawn to consider its decision while they were absent, the lawyers for the defence immediately petitioned for the case to be re-opened,

Further considering that, according to the information provided by the Speaker of the National Assembly in his letter of 19 February 2014 and by the delegation of the DRC at the hearing held during the 130th IPU Assembly, the investigation was proceeding as normal and Mr. Ndongala continued to benefit from the presumption of innocence, that, according to the delegation of the DRC, the prosecution had indeed made its closing arguments in the absence of the lawyers for the defence during the hearing of 12 March 2014, but that the lawyers had no one to blame but themselves, since they had preferred to leave the room in order to protest a point of procedure, and that the lawyers had subsequently asked for the case to be re-opened in order to present their arguments but that the Court had yet to rule on that request,

Considering also the following information provided by the sources: Mr. Ndongala’s health has deteriorated sharply since late July 2013, but the authorities have systematically refused to allow him to be taken to hospital; Mr. Ndongala was briefly transferred to a military camp in late July 2013 for medical care but demanded that he be transferred to one of the civilian hospitals with which the prison has an agreement, in accordance with standard prison practice and because he feared for his safety, given that he had been unlawfully detained and tortured in that military camp in the past; after Mr. Ndongala’s cardiac arrest and emergency hospitalization on 27 December 2013, he was forcibly returned to prison the following day before the tests ordered by the doctor had been carried out; according to the sources, he is currently not receiving appropriate medical care,

Considering in that regard that, in her letter of 27 November 2013, the Minister of Justice stated that that there was no truth to the allegations that Mr. Ndongala had been denied medical care and that the applicable legislative provisions had been respected, that Mr. Ndongala had been seen by the doctor at the military hospital at Kokolo camp in July 2013 and that the doctor had recommended x-rays and physiotherapy, that Mr. Ndongala had obtained a recommendation from the doctor that he continue his treatment at a hospital near the airport that had no agreement with the prison, that “the proximity of the international airport [wa]s indicative of Mr. Ndongala’s intentions”, and that the prison administration had acted in good faith and given Mr. Ndongala every opportunity to have access to appropriate care outside the prison, but that he had abused that possibility through his behaviour,

Also considering that, at the hearing held during the 130th IPU Assembly (March, 2014), the delegation of the DRC said, with regard to the denial of medical care, that the fact that Mr. Ndongala was still alive was “irrefutable proof that he continued to receive treatment, otherwise he would already be dead”,

Recalling that the Congolese authorities held national consultations from 7 September to 5 October 2013 in order to strengthen national unity, that the Head of State presented the recommendations of the final report that emerged from the consultations to both houses of parliament on 23 October 2013 and set up a national committee tasked with implementing them, and that the final report recommends that, “among the measures taken to ease the political tension and announced by the President of the Republic, the public authorities: (a) grant, depending on the case, a presidential pardon, release on parole and/or amnesty to inter alia (...) Eugène Diomi Ndongala (…)”,

Considering also that Mr. Ndongala did not receive a presidential pardon and was not released after the national consultations, and that the nature of the charges against him make him ineligible for amnesty under the amnesty law adopted in February 2014,

Considering finally that, at the hearing held during the 130th IPU Assembly, the delegation of the DRC confirmed that the political opposition considered that Mr. Ndongala was a political prisoner, but that such was not the position of the majority, in view of the charges against him, and that if Mr. Ndongala had not contested the legitimacy of the last elections and had agreed to take part in the parliamentary proceedings, the National Assembly would not have agreed to lift his parliamentary immunity or revoked his parliamentary mandate,

  1. Thanks the Speaker of the National Assembly and the delegation of the DRC for the information conveyed;

  2. Deeply regrets that no progress had been made in resolving the case despite the recommendations made in the final report of the national consultations;

  3. Remains convinced that the case is eminently political in nature and considers that the National Assembly failed to fulfil its obligation to guarantee the protection of Mr. Ndongala’s fundamental rights without discrimination based on his political opinions;

  4. Notes with concern that Mr. Ndongala’s trial was seriously flawed and therefore encourages the Supreme Court to issue an exemplary ruling, in strict compliance with fair-trial guarantees, in particular given the absence, should Mr. Ndongala be found guilty, of any avenue of appeal under the judicial procedure applicable to members of parliament in the DRC;

  5. Remains seriously worried about Mr. Ndongala’s deteriorating health and the allegations that he is being denied medical care; encourages the authorities to do everything required to ensure that Mr. Ndongala receives the medical care ordered by the doctors without delay and repeats that it wishes to be kept informedon that point;

  6. Requests the Secretary General to convey this resolution to the parliamentary authorities, the Minister of Justice, the sources and any third party likely to be in a position to supply relevant information;

  7. Requests the Committee to continue examining this case and to report back to it in due course.

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