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Congo forces committed ‘human rights violations’ during election, says UN

Security forces loyal to Democratic Republic of Congo President Joseph Kabila committed serious human rights violations, including killings and torture, during last year’s tense elections, the United Nations said in a report released Tuesday.


AP - Congo’s security forces committed serious human rights violations - including killings, acts of torture and arbitrary arrests - surrounding the country’s tense national elections last year, the U.N. said in a report released Tuesday.

Investigations by the U.N. Joint Human Rights Office in Congo found that at least 33 people were killed in the capital, Kinshasa, by security forces in November and December, and at least 83 people were wounded, mostly by bullets.

The investigation also found more than 265 people were arrested, the majority of them detained arbitrarily, the report said.

“We have heard multiple accounts of Republican Guards shooting live ammunition into crowds and of the torture of arbitrarily detained individuals,” said the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay. “The authorities must ensure that such grave violations of human rights are investigated, perpetrators brought to justice and that those who remain illegally detained are released without delay.”

Government officials could not be immediately reached for comment. Guy Mukendi, the spokesman for the minister of justice, said the minister would release a statement on the report later in the day.

The U.N. report said the government had opened an investigation into the violations in December.

Presidential and legislative elections were held on Nov. 28. Presidential results showed President Joseph Kabila winning 100 percent of votes at some balloting stations, and more than 100 percent of registered voters participating at other stations where he won. Congo’s Supreme Court - which Kabila loaded with his supporters last year - said Kabila won another five year term with 48.95 percent of votes.

Kabila still will command a majority in parliament, where his coalition of several parties had won about 260 of the 500 seats, down from more than 300 in the previous assembly.

The European Union and the United States have questioned the presidential election results that kept Kabila in power for another term, indicating they were so flawed it was impossible to know who won.

It was only the second democratic election Congo has ever held, with the stability of the mineral-rich African nation at stake. Critics say millions of voters were unable to cast ballots, hundreds of thousands of ballots have been tampered with and 1.3 million completed ballots went missing.

People were killed in election-related violence before, during and after the voting. When protests erupted after Kabila was announced the winner, soldiers were deployed and attacked crowds of protesters, effectively cowing the opposition.

The U.N. report said that most of the reported violations involved the Republican Guards and the National Police. Soldiers from the military were less involved, it said.

“Many of the reported violations targeted people because of their real or perceived affiliation to the political opposition party of Etienne Tshisekedi,” Kabila’s main opponent, the report said.

Roger Meece, the head of the U.N.’s mission in Congo, known as MONUSCO, said the mission awaits the findings of the investigation.

“MONUSCO looks forward to the outcome of the judicial investigation and stands ready to continue to assist and support the DRC justice authorities to identify and bring perpetrators to justice,” he said.

U.N. investigators gathered around 110 statements from various sources, including victims, witnesses, Congolese authorities and representatives of political parties, the report said. Investigators also visited several places of detention, hospitals, clinics and health centers.

Kabila took over after his father was assassinated and in 2006 called elections that were organized by the United Nations. The November vote was only the second democratic election in half a century in Congo, and the first organized by the government.

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