Canada Concerned over Death of Congolese Human Rights Defender

(No. 182 - June 3, 20106:25 p.m. ET) The Honourable Lawrence Cannon, Minister of Foreign Affairs, today voiced concern over the circumstances surrounding the death of prominent Congolese human rights defender Floribert Chebeya Bahizire and the disappearance of his driver, Fidèle Bazana Edadi, on June 2, 2010.

“This is an immense blow to human rights and human rights defenders in the Democratic Republic of Congo,” said Minister Cannon. “On behalf of Canadians, I express my sincere condolences to the family and friends of Mr. Chebeya; my hope that Mr. Bazana will be found quickly, and safe and sound; and my solidarity with all Congolese human rights defenders.

“Canada urgently requests that an impartial, independent and fully transparent investigation be launched into the circumstances of Mr. Chebeya’s death and Mr. Bazana’s disappearance. Canada also urges the Government of the Democratic Republic of Congo to take the necessary measures to guarantee the protection of all human rights defenders.”

Mr. Chebeya was the executive director of the human rights group La Voix des Sans-Voix [Voice of the Voiceless] and had been campaigning in defence of democracy and human rights in the Democratic Republic of Congo since the early 1990s. He met with the Governor General of Canada, Michaëlle Jean, while she was on a state visit to the Democratic Republic of Congo from April 18 to 20, 2010.

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For further information, media representatives may contact:

Catherine Loubier
Director of Communications
Office of the Minister of Foreign Affairs
613-995-1851

Foreign Affairs Media Relations Office
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada
613-995-1874