DR Congo: HRW Report Calls for UN Action to End Violence Against Civilians
Monday, December 21, 2009 1:30 PM

21 December 2009


Human Rights Watch has released a 183-page report entitled “’You Will Be Punished’: Attacks on Civilians in Eastern Congo.  This report, which is based on HRW interviews with victims, witnesses and family members, details violations of international humanitarian law in Eastern Congo by military forces, including the deaths of more than 1,400 citizens in 2009. The report focuses on incidents which occurred between January and September 2009 during two Congolese army operations against the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR).


The report documents accounts of Congolese army soldiers and FDLR rebel combatants accusing citizens, the majority of whom were women, children, or the elderly, of collaborating with the opposing force and "punishing" them by killing them with machetes, shooting them as they attempted to flee, or burning them in their homes.  Nearly 7,500 cases of sexual violence against women and girls in eastern Congo were also recorded by the UN between January and September 2009.  Many of these cases involved gang rape or sexual slavery, including some rapes which were so violent that the victim later died.  It is reported that these acts have been committed by members of both the Congolese army and the FDLR.


The report urges the UN Security Council to act quickly to protect Congolese citizens from further atrocities by government and rebel forces, and it calls for the UN peacekeeping force to cease all support to the current military operation until methods to prevent violations of international humanitarian law are put in place.  The creation of a civilian protection expert group is also strongly encouraged.


The full report is available through Human Rights Watch, with summary and recommendations also available in French and German.


Compiled from: Human Rights Watch; "You Will Be Punished" (2009), “UN: Act to End Atrocities in Eastern Congo” (13 December 2009).