, Geneva, Switzerland, Mar 8 – The UN’s top rights official on Wednesday called for a high-level investigation into abuses committed against civilians in the violence-wracked Democratic Republic of Congo following the discovery of mass graves.
Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein praised the DR Congo government for quickly investigating the killings and other severe human rights violations in the isolated Kasai and Lomani provinces, but said a UN probe was also needed.
“I commend the swift action taken by the government to begin processes of investigation and accountability in some of the alleged killings attributed to soldiers, and offer the assistance of my office,” Zeid told the UN Human Rights Council.
But, he continued, “in light of recurrent reports of grave violations and the recent discovery of three more mass graves, I urge the council to establish a Commission of Inquiry to look into these allegations.”
In February, a seven-minute video posted on social media, which appeared to be taken on a mobile phone, purported to show a massacre of unarmed men and women by Congolese soldiers apparently in the central Kasai area.
The country has also been rocked by political violence after President Joseph Kabila refused to step down at the end of his second and final term in December.
His continued presence in office sparked clashes that left more than 100 people dead in September and December, Zeid said.
“My office will be closely watching judicial developments in regard to actions by security forces which lead to the deaths,” he told the council.
Zeid also expressed disappointment there had been “no meaningful progress” towards implementing a power-sharing deal signed on New Year’s Eve.
That deal allows Kabila to stay on as president until elections can be held at the “end of 2017”, but calls for a transition council to be established.