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November 28, 2011

Congo Militia Leader Sanctioned by UN

by Peter Cobus

A Congolese militia leader running for parliament has been added to a United Nations sanctions list because of alleged human rights abuses.

The U.N. missions of France, Britain, and the United States said Tuesday that Ntabo Ntaberi Sheka has been added to a list of people subject to a worldwide travel ban and asset freeze.

Sheka leads the Mai Mai Sheka, an armed group operating in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. The group is accused of taking over mines in the region, recruiting child soldiers, and blocking efforts to disarm and demobilize the region's many militias.

A recent report by the U.N. Joint Human Rights Office said Sheka ordered and helped to plan attacks against villages in North Kivu province in August 2010.

The attacks by a coalition of armed groups were allegedly carried out to punish locals who collaborated with Congolese government forces. The report said nearly 1,000 houses and shops were looted and nearly 400 villagers were raped.

Sheka is subject to an arrest warrant issued by the Congolese government earlier this year.

However, he is standing as a candidate for parliament in eastern Congo's Walikale district.

The French, British, and U.S. missions to the U.N. are urging Congolese authorities to put Sheka under arrest.