DRC mapping report: An inventory of atrocities

The draft UN mapping report detailing crimes by armed forces in the Democratic Republic of Congo is an inventory of atrocities committed with impunity over a 10-year period.

The draft document lists 617 “violent incidents”, essentially massacres, perpetrated in the former Zaire between March 1993 and June 2003.

The final version of the report, whose publication was postponed until October 1 following protests from Rwanda, is not expected to modify the factual content collated by the UN human rights agency.

Each of the incidents recorded “is based on at least two independent sources identified in the report”, while more than 1 500 documents have been collected and analysed.

From July 2008 to June 2009, UN investigators interviewed 1 280 witnesses and about 200 representatives of local NGOs who revealed “crimes never previously documented”.

This 555-page document is not a legal case file, its authors emphasise, but rather a rigorous inventory of “the most serious” mass crimes committed during this period.

Achieving justice
The report aims to provide Congolese authorities with enough information “to achieve justice for the many victims and fight widespread impunity for these crimes”.

The report is structured in four parts. The first deals with the final years of the reign of president Mobuto Sese Seko (March 1993 to June 1996). The second details the first Congo War waged from 1996 to 1998 by Laurent Desire Kabila and his Rwandan, Ugandan and Burundian backers.

The next section focuses on the second war from August 1998 up to the assassination of Kabila in January 2001, which sucked in at least eight foreign armies and involved 21 militia groups.

And finally the report examines the gradual application of a ceasefire until June 2003.

The report says the 10-year period “likely constitutes one of the most tragic chapters in the DRC’s recent history”.

The draft version says “the vast majority” of these 617 incidents can be qualified as war crimes while the “various waves of reprisals, and campaigns of persecution and pursuit of refugees” could be classified as crimes against humanity.

“The systematic and widespread attacks described in this report reveal a number of damning elements that, if proven before a competent court, could be classified as crimes of genocide.” - AFP


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