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HRW urges justice for DRC rights abuses

Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] on Monday called [press release] on governments around the world to "intensify efforts to bring to justice those responsible for grave abuses" in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) [BBC backgrounder], highlighted by the UN's recent mapping report [PDF]. A full year after the report was published, detailing over 600 violations of international law [UPI report], HRW says there has been not be sufficient follow-up by African governments or the UN. HRW Africa director Daniel Bekele called for action:

With the best will in the world, the Congolese government cannot deal with the legacy of the country's massive abuses alone. The crimes committed in Congo involved border-crossing perpetrators, placing responsibilities on many governments to ensure that justice is done. ... While some of the incidents covered in the mapping report were well known, the compilation of so many atrocities into one report was a shocking wake-up call. All concerned governments, as well as those named, should ensure that the report is not simply shelved, and take action on its findings.
HRW indicated its support for the establishment of a specialized mixed court, with jurisdiction over past and current serious international crimes, including war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide, committed in Congo.

Rights groups have consistently called for more accountability for human rights abuses in the DRC. In August, Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] called for justice system reform in the DRC. The report [text, PDF] stated that the justice system has allowed the Congolese army and other armed groups to engage in a "cycle of violence and human rights violations for decades," alleging that the groups have engaged in torture, sexual violence and murder against citizens and that very few perpetrators have been brought to justice. In July, the UN Organization Stabilization Mission in DR Congo (MONUSCO) in conjunction with the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) [official websites] released a report [text, PDF] accusing soldiers in the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo (FARDC) of committing mass rape [JURIST report]. The report is the first to officially provide evidence that national forces perpetrated mass rape, as opposed to reports of opposition forces using it as a weapon [JURIST report]. In May, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon and the UN Security Council [official websites] called for continued reforms [JURIST report] in the DRC in order to strengthen the country's rule of law.

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