Monday October 4 2010

Body wants UPDF soldiers prosecuted over Congo rights abuse

By Gerald Bareebe


United Nations members should make a concerted international effort to initiate judicial investigations into human rights violations by the Uganda Peoples Defence force and Rwandan Patriotic Front in DR Congo, Human Rights Watch has said.

Mr Kenneth Roth, the Executive Director of Human Rights Watch, said in a statement yesterday that Uganda and Rwanda soldiers should be held accountable for the crimes they committed in DR Congo.

It follows a report by the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights published last week which reveals gratuitous massacres and systematic sexual enslavement of Congolese allegedly by Ugandan and Rwandan soldiers as well as their local militia allies. “This detailed and thorough report is a powerful reminder of the scale of the crimes committed in Congo and of the shocking absence of justice,” Mr Roth said.

“These events can no longer be swept under the carpet. If followed by strong regional and international action, this report could make a major contribution to ending the impunity that lies behind the cycle of atrocities in the Great Lakes region of Africa,” he said. However, the UPDF spokesperson, Lt. Col. Felix Kulayigye, discredited the report as biased and challenged the motive of the authors who he said never contacted UPDF during their investigations.

Details of the report shows that the Ugandan and Rwandan armies killed civilians and pillaged DR Congo mineral resources. The killings of Hutu civilians in the DR Congo during the 1990s, the report says, may constitute “crimes of genocide”. “The time has come to identify and prosecute the people responsible for carrying out and ordering these atrocities, going right up the chain of command,” Mr Roth said.