The government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) [BBC backgrounder] announced Sunday that national police chief John Numbi has been suspended as part of the ongoing investigation into the murder of human rights activist Floribert Chebeya. In addition to Numbi's suspension, several police officers, including a police colonel who reportedly confessed [AFP report] to being involved in the murder, have been arrested. Chebeya was found dead in his car last Wednesday, one day after being asked to attend a meeting at the office of Numbi. Government officials indicated that Numbi was suspended so the investigation can continue to progress without interference. Last week ,UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon [official profile] praised Chebeya [statement] for his humanitarian efforts and called for a "transparent and independent" investigation [JURIST report] into his murder, "with full respect for due process and rule of law." Human rights organizations, including Amensty International (AI) and Human Rights Watch (HRW) [press releases], have also demanded an impartial investigation into Chebeya's murder.
Human rights have long been a major concern in the DRC. In December, HRW urged the UN Organization Mission in DR Congo (MUNOC) [official website] to stop funding military groups [JURIST report] in the country that are committing human rights abuses. In December 2008, AI reported that rape and sexual warfare have been employed [JURIST report] by both the DRC military and by rebel forces. In November 2008, MUNOC head Alan Doss [appointment release] condemned [JURIST report] the killing of civilians by militias in the country as war crimes. MONUC has been operating in DRC since 1999. The conflict in the DRC [Global Security backgrounder] has claimed more than four million lives and has been ongoing since 1983. MONUC has overseen elections and continues to provide armed protection for civilians in certain areas, particularly the North and South Kivus provinces.