UN delays publication of DR Congo massacres report

2nd September 2010, Comments 0 comments

The UN human rights chief on Thursday delayed the publication of a report examining massacres in the Democratic Republic of Congo to October to give the states concerned time to comment.

"Following requests, we have decided to give concerned states a further month to comment on the draft," said Navi Pillay, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

"And I have offered to publish any such comments alongside the report itself on 1 October, if they so wish," she added in a statement.

On Tuesday, a spokesman from the High Commissioner's office had said that the report was finished although he was unable to say when it would be published.

Diplomats in New York had been expecting the report to be made public in September.

A draft of the UN report, a copy of which was seen by AFP, said Rwandan Tutsi commanders and their rebel allies carried out systematic attacks on Hutus in the DR Congo from 1996 to 1997 that resembled the 1994 Rwandan genocide.

As elements of the draft emerged, Rwanda this week threatened to pull its peacekeepers out of Sudan if the report was published.

"The Rwanda Defence Force (RDF) has finalised a contingency withdraw plan for its peacekeepers deployed in Sudan in response to a government directive in case the UN publishes its outrageous and damaging report," a statement from spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Jill Rutaremara had warned.

Rwanda has 3,300 troops serving in the Darfur peacekeeping mission and a further 256 serving in Sudan.

The UN's probe documented more than 600 incidents in DR Congo between 1993 and 2003 in which tens of thousands of people, many of whom were civilians, were slaughtered.

More than 1,280 witnesses were interviewed in the investigation.

A troubled UN probe into massacres in DR Congo in 1997 and 1998 raised similar concerns 12 years ago.

© 2010 AFP

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