DR Congo Court denies Bail to Youth Activists after a year of Detention

AFP logoDemocratic Republic of Congo’s Supreme Court denied bail Thursday to two civil society activists arrested a year ago during a pro-democracy workshop, their lawyers said.

“The Supreme Court of the Democratic Republic of Congo did not grant … bail to Fred Bauma and Yves Makwambala. They will remain in prison. We are disappointed,” defense lawyer Venance Kalenga told AFP.

The arrest of Bauma, 26, and Makwambala, 33, on March 15 last year was part of a growing government crackdown on those speaking out against President Joseph Kabila’s bid to extend his stay in power beyond a constitutional two-term limit, ending December 19.

The pair were arrested along with at least two dozen other people — including Senegalese and Burkinabe activists and an American diplomat — during a workshop on good governance in Africa.

Congolese authorities then accused them of planning terrorist activities and a violent insurrection. They were held without charge for weeks and then transferred to Kinshasa’s main prison where they remain.

In June last year they were charged with belonging to an association formed to attack people and property, plotting a conspiracy against the head of state, and attempting to either destroy or change the constitutional regime or incite violence against the state.