The UN on Friday released a report on war crimes [text, PDF] and human rights abuses in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The report, originally expected to be released in September [JURIST report], lists 617 of the most serious violations of human rights, including violence against children, genocide and mass rape, committed between 1993 and 2003. The report examined the crimes in the context of a number of conflicts within the country, including the two Congo wars that occurred in the late 1990s. The report also devotes a chapter to the link between the crimes committed in the country and the exploitation of natural resources, particularly diamonds and copper. In discussing the report [press release], the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) [official website] stressed the need for a joint effort by other nations in securing a future for the DRC, and indicated that a report is merely the first step, saying:
The report is intended as a first step towards the sometimes painful but nonetheless essential process of truth-telling after violent conflict. ... [I]t looks to the future by identifying a number of paths that could be pursued by Congolese society to come to terms with its past, to fight impunity, and to face its contemporary challenges in a manner that prevents the re-occurrence of such atrocities.The report concludes with an assessment of the justice system in the DRC and proposed reforms to strengthen justice in that country, including the foundational suggestion that the DRC pass a bill currently in Parliament which would implement the Rome Statute [text, PDF] in that country.
The release of the long-anticipated report has elicited strong responses [NYT report] from nations and rights organizations. In particular, Rwanda released its own report [text,PDF], calling the UN report, "[a]dangerous and irresponsible attempt . . . to undermine the peace and stability attained in the Great Lakes region." The report alleges that tens of thousands of Hutus were killed by Rwandan troops [JURIST report] during the Congo civil war [GlobalSecurity backgrounder]. Kenneth Roth, director of Human Rights Watch (HRW), said [press release] that the report exposes grave crimes and, "is a powerful reminder of the scale of the crimes committed in Congo and of the shocking absence of justice."