Free Legal Assistance Group and Others v. Zaire, Comm. No. 25/89, 47/90, 56/91, 100/93
Claim alleging the government of Zaire’s grave and massive violation of human rights under the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights; violation of the right to enjoy the best state of physical and mental health; violation of the right to education.
The claims brought by four NGOs against former Zaire (now Democratic Republic of the Congo) alleging a gross mismanagement of public finances by the government leading to degrading conditions, shortages of medicine, education and basic services. The government allegedly failed to provide these services impairing its people from obtaining adequate medical treatment and from accessing basic education. Furthermore, the claimants accuse the government of torture, arbitrary arrests and arbitrary detentions, extra-judicial executions, unfair trials, severe restrictions placed on the right to association and peaceful assembly, as well as suppression of the freedom of the press. The government of Zaire failed to respond to these allegations, in spite of the numerous opportunities given to it by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights. After consideration of the relevant provisions of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, the Commission ruled that the failure of the government to provide basic services such as safe drinking water and electricity and the shortage of medicine constitutes a violation of the right to enjoy the best state of physical and mental health (Article 16). The commission also found that the closure of universities and secondary schools violated the right to education (Article 17) under the African Charter. Besides violations of economic and social rights, the Commission found the government of Zaire guilty of violating the right to life (Article 4), the prohibition of torture and inhuman or degrading treatment, the right to liberty and security of person (Article 6), the right to have ones cause heard (Article 7) and the right to freedom of conscience, religion and belief (Article 8).
Keywords: Free Legal Assistance Group and Others v. Zaire, Comm. No. 25/89, 47/90, 56/91, 100/93, Right, Life
Zaire (today Democratic Republic of the Congo) has been in a state of war ever since. Despite various peace accords and even though democratic recognized elections took place in 2006, the country has been struck by strife and civil war. On 23 January 2008 a peace deal ending the Kivu conflict was signed. While this formally ended all conflicts in DRC, the effectiveness of the deal and therefore the implementation of the decision remains doubtful.
The Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG)
Rm. 204 Cabrera II Bldg. 64 Timog Ave. Q.C.
Tel.: 924-37-99 / 926-54-77 and 926-12-45
Lawyer’s Committee for Human Rights Svetogorska
15/VIII, 11000 Belgrade; SCG
Tel: (+ 381 11) 334-51-72; 334-42-35; 334-44-25; 303-59-82; Fax: (+ 381 11) 334-51-72
Union Interafricaine des Droits de l’Homme Adress of Secrétaire Administratif ?
http://www.iuhr.org/sommaire.php3?sq=accueilen Les Témoins de Jehovah/Zaire http://temoins-jehovah.forumactif.com/
Through this decision the Commission reinforced the universality and indivisibility of all human rights by treating economic, social and cultural rights in the same way as civil and political rights.