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UN expert confirms rebel group’s extrajudicial killings in DR of Congo last month

UN expert confirms rebel group’s extrajudicial killings in DR of Congo last month

The authorities of a rebel group fighting in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) killed civilians and executed uniformed men last month, a United Nations human rights expert who just returned from the country confirmed today.

“Some of the deaths reportedly occurred as a result of indiscriminate and random gunfire aimed at terrorizing the population, while other victims lost their lives in what would appear to be targeted extrajudicial executions,” said Asma Jahangir, the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, in a statement released today in Geneva. “Many detained soldiers and police were summarily executed,” she reported.

The human rights expert, who was in the DRC from 16 through 22 June, drew her conclusions about the killings carried out by the authorities of the Congolese Rally for Democracy-Goma (RCD-G) in the strategic town of Kisangani after speaking to officials, witnesses and victims. “The tense security situation and the pervasive fear of the RCD-G authorities among the population prevented me from meeting with some individuals who had valuable information, but who were unwilling to be seen anywhere close to my delegation,” Ms. Jahangir reported, pointing out that several members of civil society are now on the run. “I have reason to believe that their lives are at risk, and they need immediate protection.”

The Special Rapporteur called on the RCD-G to arrest those amongst them who ordered or were involved in the actual massacre of civilians, soldiers and policemen, holding trials that could be publicly observed by representatives of the UN Mission in the DRC (MONUC) and other international players as well as civilians from Kisangani.

Warning that the situation in Kisangani remains explosive, Ms. Jahangir called for preventive measures to curtail further violence. “The excesses committed by the RCD-G authorities are serious and there could be further reprisals from all sides, which may erupt in a spiral of violence, and spread to other areas of the DRC,” she said. “There is hardly any deterrence to such violence, as impunity is virtually guaranteed to those in positions of authority, even when serious human rights violations, such as broad-day massacres are committed by them.”

Calling for an end to the “deeply entrenched impunity for grave human rights violations” in the DRC, Ms. Jahangir said atrocities committed by various parties to the conflict over the years must be thoroughly investigated and the perpetrators brought to justice.