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UN rights chief says accountability necessary for Congo peace

[JURIST] UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile] on Friday urged [statement text] accountability for abuses as a prerequisite to quelling six years of fighting and restoring peace in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) [JURIST news archive; ICC materials]. Speaking at the opening of a Special Session on the Congo crisis at the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) [official websites] in Geneva, Pillay said:

Parties to the conflict must be held accountable for the atrocities committed by their forces. The United Nations Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUC) must be provided with political backing and unhindered access to conduct investigations into allegations of serious abuses. The findings of such investigations must be fully taken into account by parties involved in diplomatic and political efforts to respond to the crisis....

The periodic cycles of bloodshed and destruction that have for so long affected the DRC will keep recurring unless the perpetrators of human rights violations are brought to justice, and unless the illegal exploitation of natural resources is adequately and comprehensively addressed.

The DRC runs the risk of becoming a case study in how peace processes can go awry without the will to make justice and accountability an integral part of these processes . . . Past peace agreements have enabled well-known perpetrators of atrocities to be integrated into the army and police. This has exacerbated the current climate of impunity in the DRC, empowered human rights violators and further endangered the Congolese population.
An estimated 500 people have been killed and another 1,000 detained and possibly tortured by Congolese security forces since the disputed 2006 elections [JURIST report]. The Special Session will continue [UPI report] Monday. The UN News Centre has more.

Earlier this month, the International Criminal Court reasserted jurisdiction [JURIST report] over local war crimes issues in the Congo in the wake of renewed fighting [BBC report] in the Congolese provinces of North and South Kivu. UN officials on the ground have also warned [JURIST report] of possible war crimes and genocide being committed by militias attacking civilian populations.

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