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Amnesty accuses Congo of 'muzzling' opposition after jailing party leader

Amnesty accuses Congo of 'muzzling' opposition after jailing party leader

Republic of the Congo

Amnesty International has condemned the sentencing of small Congolese political party leader, Paulin Makaya, who has been slapped with a two-year jail term for “inciting public disorder”.

The Brazzaville High Court on Monday found the United for the Congo (UPC) party leader guilty of organizing and participating in an unauthorized demonstration against the constitutional referendum in October 2015.

Amnesty International’s Deputy regional director for West and Central Africa, Stephen Cockburn said in a statement on Tuesday that Paulin Makaya is a “prisoner of conscience who should never have been arrested in the first place”.

“Sentencing Paulin Makaya to two years in prison simply for taking part in a protest is yet another clear example of how freedom of expression has been restricted and opposition muzzled in Congo,” Cockburn added.

In addition to his two-year sentence, Paulin Makaya who has been in prison since November 2015, has also been fined 2.5 million CFA francs (3,810 euros).

His lawyers have denounced the verdict, calling the trial unfair and illegal.

“We will appeal in accordance with the Criminal Code Procedure and the case will be forwarded to the appellate court for retrial,” his lawyer Yvon Eric Ibouanga said after the trial.