DR Congo: UN denounces human rights violations
DR Congo: UN denounces human rights violations in Katanga
Military personnel from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) as well as members of Mai-Mai groups are systematically committing human rights violations against scores of civilians in the Katanga province of the vast, war-torn country, the United Nations Mission there (MONUC) said today.
During its weekly press conference in Kinshasa, MONUC officials said they had addressed recommendations to the Minister of Defense, including replacing the 63rd brigade by an integrated Congolese brigade; prosecuting identified perpetrators of human rights violations; and opening an investigation of the alleged summary executions committed in Mitwaba jail by the 63rd brigade as well as of the alleged mass graves.
The findings came from an investigation conducted by the mission’s Human Rights Division in Mitwaba, North-Katanga, from 13 to 19 February. Based on testimonies, the MONUC team was able to identify the 97 civilians who were killed, wounded, or inhumanly treated in the period of early 2005 through March 2006, explained Kemal Saiki, spokesman of the mission, and Sonia Bakar, deputy director of the Human Rights Division.
Members of the DRC’s 63rd brigade are responsible of 47 cases of violations, including 33 summary executions, MONUC said. Regarding the Mai-Mai group of Gedeon and its allies, it is responsible for 45 cases, 33 of which are summary executions. Five other cases of violations were attributed to unidentified armed men.
The MONUC team also confirmed the forced departure of at least 15 people accused of being Mai-Mai combatants who were supposed to be summarily executed by the DRC forces after their detention in Mitwaba’s jail in March 2005.
“These figures reflect only those victims whose names were recognized by their family members or by eye witnesses during MONUC’s five days presence in Mitwaba,” the mission said.
In late April 2006, MONUC has completed the deployment of 750 soldiers of a Beninese contingent that will help secure the Manono and Pewto regions of Katanga. The new contingent joined the 50 Bolivian blue helmets who were already stationed in the province.