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Congo-Brazzaville: IHRDA and OCDH file death in custody case before African Commission: Communication 398/11

By March 10, 2011March 24th, 2021No Comments

This case has been pending for five year at the national level (2007 – 2012) and a decision is yet to be reached. Frustrated by the undue delay at the national level the Yambo family through the assistance of the Institute for Human Rights and Development in Africa (IHRDA) and Observatoire congolais des droits de l’homme (OCDH)  is seeking justice before the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights(ACmHPR) for the alleged violation of Guy Yambo’s human rights but the communication has been pending at the admissibility stage for 18 months (12 July 2011- date).

IHRDA and OCDH filed a communication before  ACmHPR  against the Republic of Congo. The case was filed on behalf of Guy Marcellin Yambo, who died in detention at a Brazzaville police station under suspicious circumstances.

The complainants assert that the death of Mr Yambo while in police custody and the subsequent failure of the state to ensure justice and reparations are in violation of the human rights guaranteed to Mr Yambo and his family by the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.


Guy Yambo, aged 37, went missing on 11 January 2007. On 23 January, after a fruitless search, the family was summoned to Ouenzé 2 (Ouenzé Mandzandza) police station to be informed of Mr Yambo’s death and that his body had been transferred to the municipal mortuary. On identification, Mr Yambo’s body bore obvious trauma marks, which the police attributed to the actions by a co-detainee. The family was unable to afford costs of an autopsy. The death certificate, released after several months, listed a road accident as the cause of death.

On 23 May 2007, the Yambo family sued the police for denying assistance to a person in danger, murder and torture and cruel and inhuman treatment, all crimes under Congolese law. The case remains pending to date. No officers were disciplined and the commanding officer was simply transferred to another station.

The Yambo family is alleging violation of the rights of Guy Yambo as guaranteed by the African Charter, in particular, the guarantees to the rights to life and personal integrity (4) and fair trial (7.1.a), the prohibition of torture and cruel inhuman or degrading treatment (5), freedom from arbitrary arrest (6) and the obligation to secure the independence of the courts (26).