DRC report 'not altered by Ban'

2010-08-31 13:50

Geneva - UN chief Ban Ki-moon never asked for claims of "genocide" by Rwandan forces to be removed from a report on violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a UN human rights spokesperson said on Tuesday.

Rejecting media reports of interference by Ban on the final wording of a report on the atrocities committed from 1993 to 2003 in the country, Rupert Colville, spokesperson for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, said: "I want to make this crystal clear, this is absolutely untrue.

"Up to this point the Secretary General has never put pressure on the High Commissioner (for Human Rights) to alter the text," he added.

The 600-page UN report was leaked to French newspaper Le Monde, which in an article last Friday quoted unnamed UN sources claiming that Ban had warned Navi Pillay, the UN human rights chief, against using the word "genocide" in reference to Rwandan forces.

The newspaper's sources said that Rwanda, one of the biggest contributors of peacekeeping forces in the region, had threatened to withdraw its support to the United Nations if the damning report were to be published or leaked.

The UN probe underlined that Rwandan Tutsi troops and their rebel allies targeted, chased, hacked, shot and burned Hutus in the DRC, from 1996 to 1997, after the outbreak of a cross-border Central African war.

The probe did not list a death toll but found evidence suggesting tens of thousands of Hutus had been killed. UN and other aid agencies said in the 1990s that 200 000 Hutus were unaccounted for.

Following the leak of the report, Rwanda has threatened to curtail its co-operation with the United Nations.

"We reiterate here what we have already told the high commissioner; namely that attempts to take action on this report - will force us to withdraw from Rwanda's various commitments to the United Nations, especially in the area of peacekeeping," Rwanda's Foreign Affairs Minister Louise Mushikiwabo wrote to the UN's Ban.