Page last updated at 10:57 GMT, Tuesday, 25 November 2008

UN head outlines DR Congo 'abuse'

A bleeding Congolese man cuffed by Congolese government troops north of Goma (23 November 2008)
Mr Ban said the human rights situation was a "cause for grave concern"

All sides in eastern DR Congo have committed serious human rights abuses, the UN secretary general has said.

Ban Ki-moon said both government forces and rebels loyal to Gen Laurent Nkunda had carried out arbitrary executions, mass killings, rape and torture.

The report covers July to November, when the most recent fighting flared.

In a separate report, a rights group has accused the government of using violence to eliminate political opponents following polls in 2006.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) said Congolese security forces had deliberately killed more than 500 people in a campaign against opposition groups.

Intelligence services accused

In his 28-page report for the UN Security Council, Mr Ban said the human rights situation in DR Congo was a "cause for grave concern".

CNDP: Gen Nkunda's Tutsi rebels - 6,000 fighters
FDLR: Rwandan Hutus - 6-7,000
Mai Mai: pro-government militia - 3,500
Monuc: UN peacekeepers - 6,000 in North Kivu, including about 1,000 in Goma (17,000 nationwide)
DRC army - 90,000 (nationwide)
Source: UN, military experts

Elements of the Congolese army and national police "were responsible for a large number of serious human rights violations during the reporting period, namely arbitrary executions, rape, torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment", he said.

Rebels, including Gen Nkunda's Tutsi CNDP and the Rwandan Hutu FDLR militia - some of whose fighters are believed to have taken part in the 1994 Rwandan genocide - were meanwhile accused of perpetrating "serious human rights abuses with impunity".

These included "mass killings, torture, abductions, forced recruitment of children, forced displacement and destruction of [refugee] camps, force labour, sexual violence", the report added.

The Congolese national civilian and military intelligence services were also accused of making arbitrary arrests, followed by "torture and extortion".

Last week, the Security Council approved an additional 3,000 soldiers and police for the UN peacekeeping mission in DR Congo in an effort to prevent the conflict in the east escalating.

The recent violence has triggered a humanitarian crisis, forcing an estimated 250,000 people to flee their homes. Aid agencies have struggled to assist those most affected by the violence.

On Monday, a UK-based aid group said it had been able to get medical supplies to the towns of Kanyabayonga and Kirumba for the first time since they were captured by rebels 10 days ago.


Aid is distributed in DR Congo

Mr Ban's special envoy, Olusegun Obasanjo, has urged Congolese President Joseph Kabila to talk with Gen Nkunda in order to prevent the situation from worsening.

Gen Nkunda had three demands, Mr Obasanjo said: direct talks with the government, protection of minorities and integration of his soldiers into military and administrative structures.


Human Rights Watch, meanwhile, accused Mr Kabila's government of "brutal repression" following polls in July 2006 aimed at bringing democracy to the country after years of fighting.

Five hundred political opponents had been killed since then in the capital, Kinshasa, and the western province of Bas Congo, it said in its report, and another 1,000 had been detained.

Many of those held reported being tortured, the rights group said.

Efforts to build a democratic nation were being stifled not just by the fighting in the east of the country but "by the Kabila government's repression", Anneke Van Woudenberg, a senior researcher for HRW, said in a statement.

Map of eastern DR Congo

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