Senegal: AI calls for restraint in Congo as protesters clash with security forces

Dakar, Senegal (PANA) - Amnesty International (AI) is calling on security forces in the Republic of Congo to refrain from using excessive force against citizens protesting against proposed changes in the constitution.

“A heavy-handed response by security forces not only violates the protesters’ rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, but may inflame an already tense situation,” said Ilaria Allegrozzi, Amnesty International Central Africa researcher, according to a statement issued by the human rights watchdog's office in Dakar on Tuesday.

AI said there have been reports that the police on Tuesday used live ammunition against protesters who gathered to demonstrate against the proposed changes to the country’s constitution ahead of Sunday’s referendum, which is expected to scrap the third term and age limits to allow President Denis Sassou N'Guesso to run for another term.

Protesters carried placards denouncing the referendum and burnt tyres in the capital during Tuesday's protests.

The AI statement said: “The use of force and the deaths of protesters must be independently, impartially and effectively investigated and if there are grounds to suspect individuals of criminal responsibility they must be brought to justice.”

It said media freedom was also under threat with mobile Internet services, text messaging and the signal of some radio stations cut in Brazzaville.

“Shutting down communication networks and radio signals is a clear and unjustified attack on media freedom,” said Allegrozzi. “Authorities must ensure that journalists are able to carry out their work without fear, free from intimidation and harassment.”
-0- PANA PR/MA 21Oct2015

21 Outubro 2015 05:44:10

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