Key findings of the controversial DR Congo report
The mapping report comes up with a series of conclusions on the need for justice to halt impunity for massacres and violations from 1993 to 2003 as well as reparations.
It also underlines the need for reconciliation and closure for the physically and psychologically scarred population, with hundreds of thousands of victims still "living in fear of history repeating itself."
Here are some of the main points:
The report documented 617 incidents of serious crimes, including killings and rape, committed over two wars in the country.
It found "apparent systematic and widespread attacks" of Hutus by Rwandan troops and Congolese rebels, which could be "could be characterised as crimes of genocide."
But it also listed attacks on Tutsis by the former Congolese army.
LINKS WITH NATURAL RESOURCES:
The report concludes that "the abundance of natural resources in the DRC and the absence of regulation and responsibility in this sector have... clearly contributed to widespread violations of human rights and international humanitarian law."
It called for "more detailed analysis" of the connection, citing amongst others a case where an Australian-Canadian mining company was reportedly involved in supporting the Congolese army's attack in Katanga province.
Nine soldiers and three expatriate company staff were acquitted in a subsequent military trial for war crimes.
DRC'S DYSFUNCTIONAL JUDICIAL SYSTEM:
"There is a manifest urgency for justice and security service reform", according to the mapping report's authors.
There is "constant fear on the part of the affected populations that history would repeat itself, especially when attackers are returning to positions that enable them to commit new crimes with complete impunity."
The report found that Congolese military tribunals charged with dealing with war crimes have made just two decisions, including one acquittal.
They have also left out the strife-torn Nord and Sud Kivu provinces in the east and Kinshasa where "very serious violations of humanitarian law were committed," thereby reinforcing impunity, according to the report.
The report concludes that the Congolese justice system has insufficient resources to end impunity for the 1993 - 2003 crimes, while domestic courts are discredited in the eyes of many victims.
AN INTERNATIONAL COURT:
While it is "exclusively" up to the government in Kinshasa to prosecute crimes on its territory, the report suggests that "the creation of an international court offers some valuable and undeniable advantages."
The UN experts champion a hybrid international-national court to deal with human rights violations and war crimes committed during the period, on the lines of the one set up for Sierra Leone.
A TRUTH AND RECONCILIATION PROCESS:
The demand for truth and reconciliation system in DR Congo "remains strong" after efforts to set up such a system collapsed, the report found.
The experts found that many of those consulted in the country felt it should also have a regional as well as a national dimension, with powers to compel witnesses to attend and be questioned as well as to protect them.
However, the report warned that "a strong commitment from the government to confront the past" is essential beforehand.
For the report's authors, victims of the most serious crimes in DR Congo are entitled to reparations for their suffering.
While the Congolese government should be the first to contribute to a reparations programme, other states involved in violations also have an obligation to pay reparations to the DR Congo.
Overall, "investment from the international community may be needed in order to implement this, but these measures should also be supported by states that are considered to bear responsibility in addition to the Congolese state, with a view to promotion national reconciliation," the report concluded.
© 2010 AFP