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UN Report Finds Serious Human Rights Violations During DR Congo Elections

Serious human rights violations, including killings, disappearances and arbitrary detentions, were committed by Congolese and security forces during last year's presidential and legislative elections in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), according to a United Nations report released on Tuesday.

The report documents the killing of at least 33 people, as well as the wounding of 83 others, most of them by bullets, by security forces in capital Kinshasa, between November 26 and December 25. Besides, 16 people remain unaccounted for and 265 were arrested, many of them saying they were arbitrarily detained and tortured while in confinement.

The November 28 election was only the country's second multi-party vote since it gained independence from Belgium in 1960.

The report, which is based on investigations conducted by the U.N. Joint Human Rights Office in the DRC, found that most of the reported violations involved Republican Guards, national Congolese police or the national intelligence agency. Soldiers of the Congolese Armed Forces (FARDC) were also involved to a lesser extent.

"We have heard multiple accounts of Republican Guards shooting live ammunition into crowds and of the torture of arbitrarily detained individuals," said U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay. She urged the DRC authorities to ensure that "such grave violations of human rights are investigated, perpetrators brought to justice and that those who remain illegally detained are released without delay."

The investigation also found that many of the victims of violations were targeted because of their affiliation to the political opposition party of Etienne Tshisekedi, the main opponent of President Joseph Kabila in the presidential elections.

The U.N. Joint Human Rights Office noted that despite initial difficulties in accessing detention facilities, victims and witnesses, the government showed engagement by opening a judicial investigation in December.

The head of the peacekeeping mission in the country (MONUSCO), Roger Meece, expressed appreciation for the government's commitment to pursue a judicial probe and fight impunity to prevent the recurrence of such violations.

Meece said recent prosecutions and trials undertaken with MONUSCO's support throughout the country have led to the arrest of a significant number of perpetrators of human rights violations, and welcomed "these recent developments and the positive cooperation between MONUSCO and the DRC military and civilian justice authorities."

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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