CONGO MUST AVOID SIERRA LEONE ëPEACEí MODEL

In a new report on the DRC published today Amnesty International reveals a massive scale of human rights violations that include the killing of thousands of unarmed civilians, torture, rape and ‘ disappearance ', and more than 1.3 million people displaced from their homes.

Difficulties of access to the DRC have meant that this human rights calamity has gone largely unreported.

Those responsible for the abuses in the DRC are not only the government and local rebel forces but also the armed forces of Zimbabwe, Angloa, Namibia, Rwanda, Burundi and Uganda and the Rwandan interahamwe militia.

The report's recommendations include the immediate establishment of a UN commission of inquiry into the serious human rights abuses committed by all parties to the conflict with a view to bringing those responsible to justice and a ban on the export of any military equipment to any state or party involved in the conflict that could be used to commit further abuses in the DRC.

Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen said:

'The military and political leaders of armed forces involved in the conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo have often tried to cloak their political and economic motives by talking about the need for security.

'The only real chance for security for the people of the DRC will come when those responsible for serious human rights abuses are held to account – regardless of their position – and the cycle of violence can thus be finally ended.'

The fighting in DRC continues despite a cease-fire that came into force in September 1999 and keeping the supposed peace is due to be the UN's next major role in Africa. A UN preparatory mission is already observing the ‘cease-fire'.

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