A man holds a placard with a play on words referring to the Congolese president and reading "Sassou enough" during an opposition demonstration in Brazzaville on September 27, 2015. Picture: Laudes Martial Mbon

Brazzaville – Amnesty International on Tuesday called on the security forces in the Republic of Congo to refrain from using excessive force against protesters.

In a statement, AMnesty said five people were reported to have been killed as reports emerged that police used live ammunition against protesters who had gathered to demonstrate against proposed changes to the country’s constitution ahead of Sunday’s referendum.

“A heavy-handed response by security forces not only violates the protesters’ rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, but may enflame an already tense situation,” said Ilaria Allegrozzi, Amnesty International Central Africa researcher.

“The use of force and the deaths of protesters must be independently, impartially and effectively investigated and if there are grounds to suspect individuals of criminal responsibility they must be brought to justice.”

Media freedom was also reportedly under threat with mobile internet services, text messaging and the signal of some radio stations cut in Brazzaville.

“Shutting down communication networks and radio signals is a clear and unjustified attack on media freedom,” said Allegrozzi.

“Authorities must ensure that journalists are able to carry out their work without fear, free from intimidation and harassment.”

ANA

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