, KINSHASA, May 19 – Human Rights Watch urged on Tuesday a United Nations delegation visiting the Democratic Republic of Congo to vigorously condemn war crimes by Congolese soldiers in the eastern part of the country.
"The Congolese army is responsible for widespread and vicious abuses against its own people that amount to war crimes," said Anneke Van Woudenberg, senior researcher in the Africa division at the New York-based rights group.
"Security Council members should tell President Joseph Kabila that UN peacekeepers (MONUC) cannot support military operations in which war crimes are being committed," she addded.
The UN delegation, made up of 15 diplomats from the member states currently sitting on the Security Council, is meeting President Kabila in Kinshasa Tuesday having previously toured the eastern city of Goma.
Van Woudenberg added that the diplomats should tell Kabila that any "ongoing support will be conditional on concrete action by the Congolese government to bring such crimes to an end."
MONUC peacekeepers, the world’s largest UN force of its kind, are currently supporting government troops, known as the FARDC, in their operations against the Rwandan Hutu rebels.
According to HRW, Congolese soldiers have attacked villages and killed at least 19 civilians in North Kivu province and raped more than 143 women and girls since January.