KINASHA, CONGO (BNO NEWS) — The United Nations (UN) on Tuesday alerted that serious human rights violations, including killings, disappearances and arbitrary detentions, were committed by Congolese and security forces during last year’s elections.
According to a UN report released on Tuesday, the killing of at least 33 people by security forces in Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), were documented between November 26 and December 25, 2011.
In addition, the report said 83 others were wounded, most of them by bullets, while 16 people remain unaccounted for and 265 people were arrested, many of them saying they were arbitrarily detained and tortured while in confinement.
Most of the reported violations involved republican guards, national Congolese police or the national intelligence agency. Soldiers of the Congolese armed forces (FARDC) were also involved to a lesser extent, detailed the report, which is based on investigations conducted by the UN Joint Human Rights Office in the DRC.
Furthermore, the investigation also found that many of the victims of violations were targeted because of their affiliation to the political opposition party of Etienne Tshisekedi, the main opponent of President Joseph Kabila in the presidential elections.
The November 28, 2011 presidential and legislative elections were only the country’s second multi-party vote since independence from Belgium in 1960.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay underlined that UN personnel has heard multiple accounts of Republican Guards shooting live ammunition into crowds and of the torture of arbitrarily detained individuals.
“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,” Pillay said.
The DRC Government, however, opened a judicial investigation in December. The UN Joint Human Rights Office, along with the peacekeeping mission in the country (MONUSCO), expressed appreciation of the investigations, noting that there were initial difficulties accessing detention facilities, victims and witnesses.
MONUSCO chief Roger Meece said the mission looks forward to the outcome of the judicial investigation and is ready to continue to assist and support the DRC justice authorities to identify and bring perpetrators to justice.
“Recent prosecutions and trials undertaken with MONUSCO’s support throughout the country have led to the arrest of a significant number of perpetrators of human rights violations,” Meece said. “I welcome these recent developments and the positive cooperation between MONUSCO and the DRC military and civilian justice authorities.”
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