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Human Rights Watch Releases Report on Democratic Republic of Congo


Human Rights Watch (HRW) has released a report saying widespread violence in the DRC continues unabated. The report, “The Triangle of Death: a place of horrors in Katanga province,” documents alleged abuses by government soldiers and members of a local defense force during the last three years of violence in central Katanga.

Anneke Van Woudenberg is the senior researcher on the DRC for Human Rights Watch. She spoke with VOA English to Africa reporter Cole Mallard about the report.

She explained that the “Triangle of Death” is a zone in the southern province of Katanga where the Congolese army is fighting a local insurgency group, the Mai Mai, that’s become ”incredibly abusive.” Local residents give it that name because so many people have suffered and died in the area.

Van Woudenberg says the report reveals that war crimes are being committed by both sides. “The report describes in detail, killings of local chiefs, women accused of witchcraft, of local citizens – people opposed to the group – often in horrific public ceremonies where people are mutilated and tortured to death.”

She says the Congolese government of Joseph Kabila has not responded to the report. However, HRW delivered two detailed legal submissions saying the government must investigate, noting that one of the Mai Mai leaders has been in government custody for weeks with no charges brought against him.

Van Woudenberg says the violence may affect the upcoming elections because the government is not providing security, which is its mandate. “This is not an issue that’s been dealt with yet, and it needs to be.” She says there is no justice in the Congo.

“We have seen over the past few years that war criminals are constantly being appointed to the army. If Congo is going to develop after these elections, they need to have the rule of law and they need to hold people accountable who are torturers, killers and murderers; they shouldn’t become generals in the army.”

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