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HRW calls on DRC to investigate alleged killings by soldiers

[JURIST] Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] called [press release] on Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) officials Friday to investigate fully and impartially a video allegedly showing Congolese soldiers shooting and killing 13 alleged militia members. The video, released on February 17, shows soldiers approaching a group of alleged members of the Kamuina Nsapu militia, many of whom were carrying sticks and slingshots. The soldiers then opened fire on the group, some of whom were women and children, and several of whom were shot point-blank. The killings are believed to have occurred in the Kasai province, which has seen an increase in violence. The authenticity and source of the video has not yet been confirmed. The Communications Minister for the DRC has stated that the video is meant to tarnish the image of the DRC and said it was not filmed in the DRC. The Human Rights minister had said that an investigation has been opened into the video. A commission of inquiry was sent into the area on February 22.

Violence in the DRC has been an ongoing concern for many years. Earlier this month the UN human rights chief urged [JURIST report] the DRC to end violence against civilians. Also this month the UN human rights office expressed concern [JURIST report] over reports that at least 101 people have been killed by Congolese soldiers. Last October violent protests erupted [JURIST report] in the country after the electoral commission announced that the next presidential election, originally scheduled for November 2016, would be pushed back to 2018. The commission stated that it needed more time to prepare supplies and voter registration lists. In the beginning of 2016 former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon urged African leaders to avoid using loopholes and undemocratic constitutional changes to "cling to power" [JURIST report]. In 2015 protests and demonstrations [JURIST report] took place across the DRC to oppose the proposed changes in the law that would allow DRC President Joseph Kabila to extend his presidential term past the allotted two-year limit, and the government was accused of using excessive force against these protesters.

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