Association pour les Droits de l’Homme et l’Univers Carcéral (ADHUC)
51st Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, 12 April -02 May 2012
Explosion of the Mpila Munitions Depot in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo
Statement of Association pour les droits de L’homme et L’univers carcéral (ADHUC) & Institute for Human Rights and Development in Africa (IHRDA) on Violation of the Right to Security
l’Association pour les droits de l’homme et l’univers carcéral (ADHUC) and Institute for Human Rights and Development in Africa (IHRDA), are deeply troubled by the human casualty caused by the explosion of the Mpila munitions depot in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo on 04 March 2012. Indeed, this tragedy is not the first of its kind in the Republic of Congo, let alone on the African continent.
To better understand the context of the tragic incident of 04 March 2012, it is important to go back to the colonial era when, for strategic reasons, the city had set up barracks close to urban centres. After the Republic of Congo gained independence in 1960 and with the ever growing population, the barracks were left in the centre of major cities, representing a permanent danger to the inhabitants. Although the Congolese government took the decision some years ago to transfer munitions depots out of urban centres, this decision has not been translated into reality. This remained despite the fact that explosions of munitions depots in Pointe Noire and at the Supplies Office of Brazzaville in 1994 and 1997 respectively, caused human and material damage.
The casualty of the Mpila munitions depot explosion and of which detonations shook Brazzaville, the Congolese capital extending to several kilometers around, was very high; about 900 dead, more than 1, 000 injured and a significant number of people without shelter. The explosion which occurred in the morning of 04 March 2012 at about 8:00 a.m. and of which detonations continued to occur even several days after the incident, has plunged the population into a state of unprecedented psychosis and emotional shock.
This situation constitutes a clear violation of Article 23 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights which enshrines the right of people to security. Although aware of the danger posed by the presence of the Mpila munitions depot in the centre of urban areas, the government did nothing to prevent the occurrence of this tragedy. As the African Commission so aptly stated itself, the standards for human rights do not only contain the limits to State power but they also impose a positive obligation on States to prevent violations of human rights.
From the foregoing, ADHUC and IHRDA call on the African Commission:
▪ To urge the government of the Republic of the Congo to take measures to pay appropriate compensation and the necessary attention to all victims of the 04 March 2012 explosion or to their families;
▪ To urge the Congolese government to take necessary measures to avoid collateral damage from the March 04 explosion and to transfer the munitions depots still found in urban centres outside thereof;
▪ To urge the Congolese government to accelerate the ratification process of the Kampala Convention on Internally Displaced Persons in Africa;
▪ Finally, to consider, when examining periodic reports or field missions, the question of and the risk of munitions depots found in urban centres.
 Similar incidents occurred in 1994 in Pointe Noire, in 1997 at the Supplies Office in Brazzaville and in 2001 at the home of an army officer in Talangai.
 In January 2002 for example, the explosion of Ikeja munitions depot in Lagos killed more than 1,100 people and left 5, 000 injured as well as 20, 000 people homeless; similarly, in March 2007 the explosion of Malhazine munitions depot in Mozambique killed over 100 people and left more than 500 people homeless.
 Read ‘Association pour les droits de l’homme et l’univers carcéral (ADHUC), Rapport sur la situation d’explosion du dépôt d’armes de Mpila du 04 mars 2012’, April 2012.
 ‘Observatoire congolais des droits de l’homme, Note de position : Explosion du dépôt de munitions de Mpila : Conséquence de la négligence des plus hautes autorités du pays’, March 2012.