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UN delays release of controversial DRC 'genocide report'

The UN announced Thursday that it will delay the release of a report [UN News Centre report] that accuses Rwandan forces of committing acts of genocide in neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive] during the years following the 1994 Rwandan genocide [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive]. According to a statement by the UN Office for the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) [official website], the report will be released on October 1 to allow time for commentary opposing the alleged findings. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile] said that she is willing to include such comments in the published report. The Rwanda Defense Force (RDF) [official website] has condemned the report, a draft of which was originally leaked [Le Monde report, in French] last month, and has threatened to withdraw its peacekeeping forces from UN operations [AP report] if the report is made public. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon [official website] on Thursday urged Rwanda to continue its peacekeeping efforts [AFP report] in Sudan in spite of its negative views of the report.

The forthcoming report claims that troops from Rwanda [JURIST news archive] and allied rebels committed crimes in the DRC that could be classified as genocide if proven by the appropriate court. Documenting the extreme violence in the DRC from 1993-2003, the report alleges that tens of thousands of Hutus were killed by Rwandan troops [JURIST report] during the Congo civil war [GlobalSecurity backgrounder]. Following the 1994 Rwandan genocide, in which more than 800,000 primarily Tutsi people were killed in a span of 100 days, Hutu militias and civilians fled to neighboring Congo, then known as Zaire. According to the New York Times, the report documents systematic killings [NYT report] by the Tutsi-dominated Rwandan army with the assistance of the Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo (AFDL) rebel movement, which may legally amount to genocide. While Rwanda and the DRC have continually asserted that Hutu militias were attacked following the 1994 genocide, the report alleges that civilian Congolese Hutus were also the target of violence and killings. Rwandan Justice Minister Tharcisse Karagurama [official website] has rejected the report [BBC report], saying that it had no basis.

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