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UN Watch Slams 'Toothless' Resolution on Congo

UN Watch Slams 'Toothless' Resolution on Congo, in Speech to UN Rights Council Special Session

Geneva, December 1, 2008 — UN Watch, a Geneva-based human rights monitoring group, slammed an African-sponsored resolution on Congo that praises the Kinshasa government -- whose troops stand accused of mass rape, murder and other atrocities -- for its alleged "cooperation" with the UN.

Addressing today's UN Human Rights Council emergency meeting on Congo, UN Watch urged the 47-nation body to reinstate the independent monitor that it scrapped in March and to dispatch an immediate fact-finding mission to investigate gross human rights violations.

The non-governmental organization also called for an apology.

"Morally, the countries that were behind the elimination of the monitoring mandate in March ought to apologize to the victims of Congo," said UN Watch executive director Hillel Neuer. "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."

In March, Egypt on behalf of the African Group supported elimination of the Congo mandate, supported by Russia, Tunisia, Algeria and others.

"Today's resolution is a major disappointment. The toothless text fails to reinstate the UN rights monitor sacked by the council in March, and fails to investigate the mass murder, rape and other war crimes that are making Eastern Congo a living hell," said Neuer. "By granting impunity to war criminals, the credibility of the UN Human Rights Council is now at stake."

After UN Watch today challenged those countries who voted to scrap the mandate in March, council president Martin Uhomoibhi of Nigeria responded that "we have to be forward-looking and not focus on previous things said."

A recent UN report said members of the Congolese army and national police "were responsible for a large number of serious human rights violations ... namely arbitrary executions, rape, torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment."

ENDS

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