UN human rights body condemns North Kivu abuses

A resolution passed by all 47 members of the United Nations Human Rights Council has condemned human rights abuses, widespread rape and the recruitment of child soldiers in the Democratic Republic of Congo.


AFP - The United Nations Human Rights Council on Monday condemned human rights abuses, sexual violence and the recruitment of child soldiers in the ongoing conflict in Democratic Republic of Congo.

The resolution, adopted by consensus by the council's 47 members, "calls for the immediate end to all human rights violations and unconditional respect for the rights of civilians."

It "condemns the acts of violence, human rights violations and abuses committed in Kivu, in particular sexual violence and the recruitment by the militia of child soldiers, and stresses the importance of bringing all perpetrators to justice."

However France's ambassador to the council Jean-Baptiste Mattei regretted that the text did not mention specifically cases of torture and extrajudicial killings, as had featured in the EU's own draft resolution.

Mattei had told the council on Friday that there is "tangible evidence that war crimes and crimes against humanity have been committed" in the eastern province of Nord-Kivu.

France, which currently holds the European Union's rotating presidency, had requested the session along with 15 other states.

The UN last month accused government forces of a wave of violence against civilians, including looting and rape, in several towns in Nord-Kivu.

The resolution stressed that the government in Kinshasa "has the primary responsibility to make every effort to strengthen the protection of the civilian population".

The council was accused by human rights groups of abandoning its responsibilities in the country after voting earlier this year to scrap the post of an independent human rights expert to monitor Kinshasa's record following pressure from the African Group of council members, supported by Russia, Tunisia and Algeria.

"Morally, the countries that were behind the elimination of the monitoring mandate in March ought to apologize to the victims of Congo," said Hillel Neuer, executive director of the non-governmental organisation and human rights group UN Watch.

"We will never know how many lives could have been saved if the Council had not deferred to Congo's government and caused this unconscionable protection gap, which slashed an early warning mechanism just when the victims needed it most," he said in a statement.

France's Human Rights Minister Rama Yada called during a visit to Congo Sunday for international action to counter what she called "catastrophic" conditions facing the refugee population.

An estimated 250,000 people have been displaced since new fighting between renegade Tutsi general Laurent Nkunda and government forces erupted in August, with the crisis worsening over the past six weeks.


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