Dr Charles Tannock

Member of the European Parliament for London

Democratic Republic of Congo: the case of Floribert Chebeya Bahizire

Delivered in Plenary - 17th June 2010

Mr President

This horrific case recalls the worst abuses that one of Africa’s most noted kleptocrats, the late Mobuto Sese Seko of Zaire, a country that eventually became the DRC. The change of name has sadly not changed the political culture in this country.

Human rights defenders still face grave dangers in doing their job. Journalists are routinely threatened and sometimes killed. Indeed, the name of Floribert Chebeya Bahizire is the latest in a long line of courageous human rights defenders who paid the ultimate price for their convictions.

I sincerely hope that this case will result in a conviction of another kind, and that in the longer term the EU will redouble its efforts to strengthen civil society in the DRC. I am also convinced that the climate of political violence and impunity in the DRC – and in other parts of Africa sometimes – is linked to the control of resources, especially minerals. I have previously urged the Commission to consider extending the Kimberley Process of certification beyond diamonds – the blood diamond story, as it were – to other minerals. I believe this would be a significant step forward in helping to address the lawlessness that continues to claim the lives of brave men such as this man in particular.