Human Rights and Protection of Lawyers

Disciplinary Sanction against Honorary President of the Bar Ntoto

By Jacqueline R. Scott, Co-Director of Human Rights and Protection of Lawyers


In the context of an election for National Bar President of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Honorary President of the Bar, lawyer Ntoto Aley Angu Damase (Ntoto) was prosecuted for improper and undignified advertising by the Bar Council of the National Bar Association. In the context of his campaign to win the election, Ntoto distributed a picture of himself, stating that he was ready to serve the Bar Association and to provide dignity and independence to the Bar Association. The picture was a dignified portrait photo of Ntoto wearing his lawyer’s robes. Nevertheless, the Bar Council considered this photo to be contrary to Congolese law which prohibited lawyers from appearing undignified and Ntoto was charged accordingly. He was notified of the charge on March 27, 2014, and ordered to appear before the Bar Council for a hearing the next day. Congolese law requires a 15-day notice for such matters.


The election was to be held on March 29, the day after the hearing. The Bar Council was comprised of 9 members, and the majority of the court included 3 of Ntoto’s opponents in the election for National Bar President, the wife of another opponent and Tanayi Mbuy-Mbiye, who had previously served two terms as National Bar President, and who previously had unsuccessfully attempted to seek re-election for a third term. Ntoto was sentenced by the Bar Council, and therefore, forced to drop out of the election for National Bar President. He was ultimately condemned to a reprimand sanction and was therefore made ineligible to serve as member of the Bar Council for 3 years. He has no right of appeal.


Mr Ntoto was lately prosecuted for « attacking the honor of the Bar Association ». The charges were based on a letter M. Ntoto sent to the members of the Bar Council thanking them for their support during the General Assembly on March 29 and allegedly inviting them to sabotage the General Assembly on June 28. According to the Bar Council, Mr. Ntoto constituted a group in order to disturb the meeting. On May 16, Mr Ntoto was disbarred for one year and rendered ineligible to serve as on the board of the Bar Association for 5 years.


Martin Pradel, Co-Director of Human Rights and Defense of the Defense has recently returned from a one-week mission to the DRC, where he found violations of Ntoto’s due process and other legal rights. The Defense of the Defense Committee is deeply concerned about the violations of Ntoto’s due process rights and is considering how to proceed.