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UN mission reports on serious human rights abuses by Congolese military

UN News Service - January 24, 2006

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) military?s efforts to flush militias from the area south of Lake Albert in Ituri district has resulted in serious human rights violations, including the summary execution of six fishermen, rapes, imprisoning children and forcing villagers to transport stolen goods, the United Nations peacekeeping mission (MONUC) said today.

In a report covering a period ending last December, the mission?s Human Rights Division said local villagers were ordered to create a mass grave for the bodies of the fishermen, who were alleged to have been extrajudicially executed by soldiers at Koga 1 on 18 November 2005.

?A seventh victim is alleged to have been killed at the same location two days later. Three further bodies ? a man, woman and 5 year old child ? have been found 2 kilometres away from the site of the killings,? the report added.

MONUC?s Human Rights Division consists of four units ? special investigations, justice support, protection of victims and witnesses, and human rights defenders. It has 11 regional offices located in all provinces, 7 sub-offices and 2 mobile teams in North and South Kivu.

In Katanga, Armed Forces of DRC (FARDC) military operations against Mayi Mayi militia continued. MONUC saw a group of 46 ?prisoners of war? out of a total of around 400 detainees being held. The prisoners themselves included children, many of whom were sick and nude, the report said.

At Pungwe, a village in northern Katanga, the local chief complained to military observers that the FARDC were harassing the local population. According to the source, soldiers who were said to be conducting operations against the Mayi Mayi were instead looting livestock from locals and forcing the villagers to transport stolen goods.

Local observers said rapes were being more frequently reported than ever, with at least nine women raped by 20 solders in November in Bilundule, Rutshuru territory in North Kivu. The Human Rights Division?s Goma office said is investigating the incidents.

That office also reported that an elderly civilian was found dead on 29 November in Lakpa, a village some 25 kilometres south of Bunia, about a week after he was said to have been arrested by FARDC members, who also stole 300 head of cattle from him. His arms were tied behind him, three bullets were in his back and his body carried other wounds. The Military Prosecutor has begun an investigation, MONUC said.

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