Faith Leaders Concerned Over Death of Congo Rights Worker

An undated file photo of DRC human rights worker Floribert Chebeya, who was found dead in his car last Wednesday while en route to a meeting with the national police chief. (Photo:

Faith leaders have expressed shock and concern over last week's death of Congolese human rights worker Floribert Chebeya.

Chebeya, who was head of the group Voice of the Voiceless and had reportedly received death threats for 20 years, was found dead in his car on Wednesday morning after being called to a meeting with the national police chief, John Numbi. His driver, Fidele Bazana Edadi, is still missing.

World Council of Churches (WCC) General Secretary the Rev. Olav Fykse Tveit urged the DRC government "to act as agents of the rule of law," adding that, "[t]he government has a responsibility to respect, protect and fulfill the human rights of its citizens and should demonstrate this respect by conducting a full, open and transparent investigation into the death of Mr Floribert Chebeya Bahizire and the fate of his driver, Mr Fidele Bazana Edadi."

Tveit also expressed his concern over increasing oppression against Congolese human rights defenders, which Canadian human rights group Kairos also spoke out against.

"Kairos is increasingly concerned by the worsening intimidation against Congolese human rights defenders, and the ongoing impunity for crimes committed against them," the group said in a statement, noting that Chebeya's death mirrors that of 2005's murder of Pascal Kibembi, a Kairos partner, whose killer was never found.

Bishop Pierre Marini Bodho, national president of the Church of Christ in Congo, said that, "Mr Chebeya was respected by our whole church for his commitment to the promotion of human rights and his dedication to the defence of the weak. He embodied the hope for the implementation of rule of law in the Democratic Republic of Congo, for which we are calling with all our heart."

Chebeya's death also sparked concern from the U.N., who said that the circumstances of the death "strongly suggested official responsibility."

The DRC government has not responded to the comment, but has ordered an inquiry into Chebeya's death as well as suspended Numbi.

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