Wanted Ex-Intelligence Chief Returns to Congo

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Kalev Mutond, former director of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s National Intelligence Agency (Agence nationale de renseignements).

Last week Kalev Mutond, the former director of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s National Intelligence Agency (Agence nationale de renseignements, ANR), emerged from the shadows. Fearing arrest, Mutond had fled the country in March 2021, just days before judicial authorities issued a wanted notice for him after several victims took legal action accusing him of arbitrary detention, torture, and attempted murder.  

The media reported that Mutond would now be offering victims an apology and seeking forgiveness. Congolese activist Carbone Beni, who was badly beaten and arbitrarily detained by the ANR for months between 2017 and 2018, tweeted in response that while forgiving “stems from an individual awareness,” it should not be “a trick to escape sanction.”

Mutond, commonly known by his first name “Kalev,” orchestrated the government’s brutal repression against political dissent while then-President Joseph Kabila sought a third term after the end of his constitutionally mandated two-term limit in December 2016. Under Mutond’s command, the intelligence agency arrested scores of human rights and pro-democracy activists as well as opposition members, many of whom were without charge and without access to their families or lawyers. Many of those detained were tortured.

The United States sanctioned Mutond in December 2016 for “undermining democratic processes,” and the European Union imposed sanctions against him in May 2017 for “planning, directing, or committing” serious human rights violations.

When President Félix Tshisekedi removed Mutond from the ANR director position in March 2019, victims hoped that the once-untouchable official would eventually face justice. But the fact that Mutond seems to have been living in Kinshasa as a free man since his return in late August raises concerns that a deal might have been struck allowing him to escape prosecution.

“These people must know that there are consequences for their actions,” said activist and former ANR-detainee Christopher Ngoyi, who sought legal action in January 2021 so “there isn’t another Kalev Mutond in the future.” Any “amicable solution would not help the country to move forward,” he told Human Rights Watch.

If President Tshisekedi is genuinely committed to fighting impunity, he should ensure that “Kalev” is held accountable for the many serious abuses he oversaw. For the victims, justice is nonnegotiable.

 

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