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Security Council preparing statement on DR of Congo, President says

Security Council preparing statement on DR of Congo, President says

The United Nations Security Council, which today heard a report on the massacres that took place in mid-May in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), plans to adopt a formal statement on the matter, the current President of the 15-member body said.

Speaking to reporters this afternoon, Ambassador Jeremy Greenstock of the United Kingdom said the Council had been fully briefed on the situation on the ground, "progress or non-progress being made on the inter-Congolese dialogue," and on the need for the UN Organization Mission in the DRC (MONUC) to review the work ahead.

"There was then a long and rather good discussion on how we should move forward," the President said. "The details of that will be fed into an exercise being led by France to deliver a draft Presidential Statement back to the Council over the next week."

During their closed-door meeting, Council members were briefed by the Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Jean-Marie Guéhenno, and by Mary Robinson, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, who addressed the Council for the first time on a country-specific issue.

In her briefing, the text of which was made available to journalists after the meeting, the High Commissioner offered a detailed account, prepared by a UN expert, of massacres allegedly committed by the Rassemblement Congolais pour la Democratie-Goma (RCD-G) in Kisangani.

She cited accounts by witnesses about how a large number of police and military were ordered to lie down, with their hands bound, and then shot, hacked to death with machetes or had their throats slit by RCD-G soldiers on the Tshopo bridge. "It appears that some of the bodies were decapitated before being thrown in the river," she said. "Some of the bodies were reportedly put in plastic bags."

According to Mrs. Robinson, the UN Special Rapporteur has information identifying 103 civilians and at least 60 soldiers and police officers killed extrajudicially by the RCD-G. "Reports indicate that another 20 unidentified bodies were observed in the Tshopo River in the days following the incident," she said, stressing that the perpetrators must be brought to justice.

"The authorities should take immediate steps to arrest those amongst them who ordered or were involved in the actual massacre of civilians, soldiers and policeman," the High Commissioner said.