WASHINGTON (April 13, 2006)—The Chairman of the Committee on International Policy, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), expressed deep concern over the arbitrary arrest and detention of two persons who have been working on behalf of human rights in the Republic of the Congo.
In a letter to Ambassador Serge Mombouli of the Republic of the Congo, Bishop Thomas G. Wenski said:
"On behalf of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), I am writing today to join our voices with those of our brother bishops in the Republic of the Congo to express our deep concern over the arbitrary arrest and detention by the police in Pointe-Noire of Messrs. Brice Makosso and Christian Mounzeo, who have now been held in custody since Friday, April 7, 2006 without charge.
"As indicated in their declaration of April 10, 2006, the Conference of Bishops of the Congo (CEC) is particularly alarmed by the numerous irregularities in judicial procedure leading to this incarceration that would suggest other, less explicit motives for this affair," Bishop Wenski wrote. "The U.S. bishops share the apprehension that these two men may be suffering harassment as a result of their tireless efforts to ensure a measure of transparency in the management of your country's abundant natural resources, rather than for any sort of malfeasance.
"It is therefore with a sincere regard for justice and due process of law that the U.S.
bishops request you to convey to your government an urgent appeal for the immediate and unconditional release of Messrs. Makosso and Mounzeo, as well as for an end to all forms of harassment of, or reprisals against, these two defenders of human rights," Bishop Wenski said.
"During a fact-finding trip in August 2000 to learn about the situation of refugees and internally displaced persons, I had an opportunity to see first hand the plight of many Congolese people who yearned to see their country at peace and governed by the rule of law," Bishop Wenski said.
The bishop closed the letter by thanking the ambassador for bringing this matter to the attention of the Government of the Republic of the Congo.
Mr. Brice Makosso is Permanent Secretary of the Justice and Peace Commission of the Congo Bishops' Conference, while Mr. Christian Mounzeo serves as President of the Peace and Human Rights Group (RPDH).