UN rights office finds potential crimes against humanity in DR Congo
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UN rights office finds potential crimes against humanity in DR Congo

The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) said in a press briefing on Tuesday that attacks against civilians in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) may amount to crimes against humanity.

The declaration comes after numerous civilian attacks were described in a report by the UN Joint Human Rights Office in the DRC. The report found that in 2020, no fewer than 849 civilians were killed in attacks by the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) in two provinces of the DRC, with a further 62 people injured and four women sexually abused. In the latter half of 2020, 534 civilians were kidnapped by the ADF, with a large majority still missing. The report also found human rights violations by the DRC’s security and defense forces, with 47 civilians killed and 49 women and children sexually abused. At the beginning of this year, the Twa community in Walese Vonkutu, Irumu territory, were attacked by an unknown group of men with 14 civilians killed.

The report provided recommendations for the DRC authorities that included respecting international human rights law and international humanitarian law, strengthening state forces in areas controlled by the ADF, and conducting thorough investigations into human rights violations by the DRC’s security and defense forces.

In a subsequent press briefing, Marta Hurtado, a spokesperson for the OHCHR, declared that some of the attacks are potential crimes against humanity and found that the report:

underscores the need to facilitate access to justice for victims, and humanitarian aid for survivors, including those who are displaced by the violence. The report encourages the DRC authorities to engage through the judicial cooperation framework to curb cross-border crime, to ensure that perpetrators affiliated with the ADF and other armed groups who seek refuge in countries of the region, in particular Uganda, are tracked and brought to justice.