UN calls for CAR Congo troops probe

2015-06-05 23:00
Central African Republic's police forces patrolling along with the UN Minusca peacekeepers (Rear) through the 3rd district of Bangui. Pacome Pabandji, AFP)

Central African Republic's police forces patrolling along with the UN Minusca peacekeepers (Rear) through the 3rd district of Bangui. Pacome Pabandji, AFP)

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Geneva - The UN human rights chief said Friday that he was "deeply concerned" about inaction over claims that 11 people were killed by Congolese peacekeepers in the Central African Republic 15 months ago.

The statement from Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein follows shocking reports of alleged child sex abuse by French soldiers in the country and a similar incident reportedly involving a Moroccan soldier.

"We are deeply concerned that more than 15 months after the enforced disappearance of at least 11 people, including five women and one child, by troops from the Republic of Congo, their whereabouts remain unknown and a full and transparent investigation has not been conducted by responsible authorities inside or outside the country," Hussein said.

He said the incident took place in Boali, a small town north of the capital Bangui, when 11 people were arrested after an exchange of fire between an armed group and the Congolese contingent of an African Union-led peacekeeping force in the CAR known as MISCA.

The group was then transferred to a Congolese MISCA base on March 24 last year.

"A witness who was at the MISCA base at the time reported hearing crying, screaming and gunshots at the premises," Hussein said, adding that this account was corroborated by a second one.

"A third witness said that several hours later, around 21:00, the commander knocked on his door and requested two shovels which he said were needed to reinforce the contingent's defensive positions."

Killed and buried

The third witness said he then saw a convoy of vehicles being driven to a nearby factory.

The Congolese commander then reportedly ordered the power company to switch off lights in the area.

The zone was declared off-limits by Congolese troops for weeks on the grounds that it was riddled with landmines, according to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, citing witnesses.

"Other local sources also said they believed that the 11 detained individuals had been killed and buried in that area on the evening of 24 March, 2014," Hussein said.

"Upon visiting the area, human rights staff noticed visible undulation in the land, supporting the contention that the land was disturbed at one point," he added.

He said there was strong evidence that the soldiers from the Republic of Congo had "committed acts of enforced disappearance, torture and extrajudicial killings."

"We urge the relevant authorities, including the government of the CAR, the African Union and the Republic of Congo, to ensure without further delay that an impartial, effective and transparent investigation is conducted to clarify the fate of the people involved."

Since September last year, MISCA has been taken under the aegis of the United Nations to become MINUSCA, one of three peacekeeping forces in the strife-riven nation alongside a European Union contingent and soldiers deployed by France.

Read more on:    minusca  |  central african republic  |  central africa

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