Amnesty urges action on UN's DR Congo report

1st October 2010, Comments 0 comments

Rights group Amnesty International welcomed a UN report Friday casting blame for massacres and rapes in the Democratic Republic of Congo but said action was now needed to ensure justice was served.

"The cycle of violence and abuses will only stop if those responsible for crimes under international law are held to account," said Salil Shetty, secretary general of the London-based organisation.

He added: "It is now up to the Congolese government -- with support of regional governments and donors -- to ensure the conclusions of the report are translated into concrete action.

"This means investigating and prosecuting those responsible for the horrific crimes perpetrated in the DRC and awarding reparations to the victims."

Amnesty called for a Congolese-UN taskforce to be set up to develop a long-term plan to end impunity for the crimes committed over the two wars from 1993 to 2003, and also urged Kinshasa to bolster its justice system.

"Unless perpetrators are held criminally responsible and the truth about human rights abuses is established, peace and stability throughout the Great Lakes region will not be achieved," Shetty said.

"Recent reports of mass rapes in the Walikale region, eastern DRC, show all too clearly how vulnerable the civilians still are, and how the lack of investigation and prosecution of grave abuses against civilians send a signal that perpetrators can continue to act in complete impunity," Shetty added.

In its report, the United Nations said acts of genocide may have been committed in the DR Congo. The accusations were immediately rejected by Rwanda, whose troops were at the centre of the most serious claims.

© 2010 AFP

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