UN to follow up on Congolese atrocities carried out in Central African Republic
KAMPALA, June 9 (ANA) – Following a report by Human Rights Watch (HRW) the UN has told journalists that it will follow up, and further investigate, atrocities carried out by Republic of Congo (ROC) troops in the Central African Republic (CAR) from 2013 to 2015.
Some of the atrocities were allegedly carried out by the Congolese soldiers while they served with the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in CAR (MINUSCA), which falls under the auspices of the African Union (AU).
A report released earlier this week by HRW said a grave exhumed near a peacekeeping base in Boali in CAR, uncovered the remains of 12 people allegedly detained by the peacekeepers in March 2014. The report refutes claims that those detained had “escaped”.
HRW also documented the death by torture of two Anti-Balaka leaders in Bossangoa in December 2013, the public execution of two suspected Anti-Balaka in Mambéré in February 2014, and the beating to death of two civilians in Mambéré in June 2015 by Congolese peacekeepers.
The Anti-Balaka Christian militias and the Seleka Muslim militias have been fighting each other in CAR’s civil war.
Following the exhumation of the grave, HRW wrote to ROC President Denis Sassou Nguesso and to the AU urging credible investigations to bring those responsible to justice.
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon responded to HRW’s report, stating that he shared the rights organisation’s concerns.
In a Wednesday press release Ki-moon said he expected the ROC to hold the perpetrators of the atrocities fully accountable.
The press release underscored that since the allegations first came to light in 2014, the UN has been actively engaged in investigating the abuses at various levels in coordination with the AU.
These include engaging with the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Departments of Peacekeeping Operations and Field Support (DFS), as well as the ROC authorities.
The UN Security Council was also informed through the Secretary-General’s report of the International Commission of Inquiry on the Central African Republic (December 2014).
A summary of actions taken by the UN concerning the events described in the HRW report was outlined in Wednesday’s press release.
The disappearance of 11 people in March 2014 in Boali, CAR, while in the custody of Republic of Congo peacekeepers, was investigated by the UN’s human rights staff in CAR.
Investigation results were provided to the host authorities and later to the Security Council through the International Commission of Inquiry’s report.
The implicated Republic of Congo unit was repatriated before the transfer of authority to the UN and was not “re-hatted” when the mission became a UN peacekeeping operation in September 2014.
The UN was not informed of the exhumation of the mass grave in February 2016, according to the details provided.
Protection of this burial site is a national responsibility and the UN mission provided all information it had gathered during its subsequent investigations to the CAR authorities.
Turning to the reported killing of two individuals in June 2015 in Mambere, CAR, by ROC peacekeepers serving under MINUSCA, the incident was investigated promptly by MINUSCA, with the UN mission publicly reporting the facts on 10 June 2015 in a press release.
Twenty contingent members from the ROC, including two commanding officers, were repatriated on disciplinary grounds and banned from future service with UN peace operations.
A Headquarters-led Board of Inquiry was convened by DFS in April 2016 and its findings will be made public soon.
In May 2016, the UN received preliminary information from ROC authorities on various investigative and judicial processes that are under way, as well as interim disciplinary measures that have been imposed on individuals and commanders implicated in these incidents, said the UN press release.
In a note verbale dated 12 May, the Republic of Congo expressed “profound regret” and pledged to ensure that justice will be done.
The UN will continue to follow up actively on the outcome of these processes, correspondents were informed.
– African News Agency (ANA)
Disclaimer: This story is pulled directly from the African News Agency wire, and has not been edited by Mail & Guardian staff. The M&G does not accept responsibility for errors in any statement, quote or extract that may be contained therein.