Government soldiers and rebels fighting in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo have both committed serious human rights abuses, according to the United Nations secretary general.
A report presented by Ban Ki-moon to the UN security council documents atrocities perpetrated against the displaced civilian population of the vast region. Up to 250,000 people have been forced to flee their homes in the past few months.
The details of mass killings and rapes emerged as Human Rights Watch released a separate report estimating that as many as 500 political opponents of President Joseph Kabila’s government had been murdered since 2006 elsewhere in Congo. It described the human rights situation in the central African state as “a cause for grave concern” despite a current lull in fighting.
The UN report, which covers conditions between July and November, said elements of the Congolese army and national police were responsible for violations including arbitrary killings, rape and torture.
Rebels – including those loyal to Laurent Nkunda’s National Congress for the Defence of the People and Rwandan Hutu fighters – are accused in the report of “perpetrating serious human rights abuses with impunity”. Among the Hutu fighters are said to be some who participated in Rwanda’s 1994 genocide.