Human rights defender
Olivier is a Congolese lawyer and Human Rights Defender working on the promotion and protection of human rights and the environment through activities centred on access to justice, advocacy and monitoring. He is the executive secretary of an organisation whose primary objectives are the safeguarding of human rights, the promotion of good governance and the protection of the environment. Olivier works on different projects such as supporting Pygmy participation in local governance; providing legal aid for victims of sexual violence; providing legal and judicial assistance for victims of torture, arbitrary arrest and detention related to freedom of expression; awareness campaigns for the promotion of fundamental rights and democratic freedoms; judicial and legal support for widows, orphans and poor victims of injustice and denial of land rights; and finally research on land rights in North Kivu.
Tensions are continually rising throughout the Democratic Republic. Government authorities have sought to silence dissent with threats, violence, and arbitrary arrests, to which Olivier was directly exposed to because of his work as a Human Rights Defender. In eastern Congo, dozens of armed groups remain active. Many of their commanders lead forces that have been responsible for numerous war crimes for which few have been held accountable. Soldiers of the Congolese Armyhave also been responsible for abuses against the civilian population they are meant to protect.
In March 2015, Olivier provided judicial assistance to members of a citizen’s movement, who were arbitrarily arrested during demonstrations against the government. On March 17, Olivier was arrested by agents of the ANR (Agence Nationale des Renseignements), tortured and beaten. After a short stay at the hospital, and in fear of further threats, Olivier relocated to Nairobi before coming to The Hague under the Shelter City Initiative. During Olivier stay in The Netherlands he has the chance to regain his strength and continue his work in a safe environment. During his stay he can share his story with the purpose of informing government officials, NGO’s and the public about the challenges he and his colleagues face. He will receive training to improve skills which are crucial to effective work as a Human Rights Defender, as well as gaining access to an expanded professional network including judicial actors of the ICC and the Bar of the Hague.