Judge Orders Congo to Pay Beaten Protesters $500K

WASHINGTON (CN) — The Democratic Republic of the Congo must pay more than half a million dollars, a federal judge ruled, to three protesters who were brutally attacked outside a Washington, D.C., hotel while speaking out against the government’s human-rights violations.

Congolese refugee Jacques Miango brought the underlying complaint in 2015, a year to the day of his attack outside the Capella Georgetown Hotel on Aug. 6, 2014.

At the time, DRC President Joseph Kabila Kabange was in Washington for the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, and the protesters stationed themselves across the street from the Capella hotel with signs that condemned “rape, corruption, genocide, dictatorship and human rights violations in the DRC.”

As detailed in an amended complaint, security forces for the DRC began attacking the protesters soon after President Kabange’s arrival.

Miango allegedly suffered broken teeth and a concussion, as well as injuries to his spine and neck. He also says DRC security forces broke into his parked car and confiscated his personal property.

U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson awarded Miongo default judgment on Jan. 16, ordering the DRC, Kabange and others to pay $562,660.06. This amount is due to Miongo and his wife as well as two fellow protesters, Matala Kayaya and Ouwo Likutu.

Baltimore-based attorney George Rose thanked the court for siding with his clients

“This decision and default judgment award reaffirms my clients’ hopes in America’s governing system,” Rose said in an email, going on to accuse the  U.S. State Department of failing “to act against the gross violation of my clients’ rights and freedom of speech and protest.”

The U.S. Embassy for the Democratic Republic of Congo did not respond to a request for comment on the judgment.

President Kabange assumed power in 2001 after his father was assassinated.

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