News / Africa

UN Upset by Premature Leak of DRC Report

The U.N. human rights office in Geneva says it is very upset by the premature leak of the controversial report on the human rights situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).  The agency says the final version of the report, which will be issued shortly, differs in a number of ways from the accounts published by news organizations.

Several news organizations jumped the gun in publishing the U.N. report on 10 years of human rights abuses and atrocities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  But, the U.N. Human Rights Office is directing most of its ire at the French newspaper, Le Monde, which was the first media organization to leak the report.  

Agency spokesman, Rupert Colville, says everyone associated with the report is very upset with Le Monde.  He says the U.N. Office had asked the newspaper to refrain from publishing the story, as the final definitive version would be coming out soon.

Unfortunately, he says the paper did not listen and this has created a messy situation.

"It is an extraordinary report.  It is very unprecedented in many ways.  Its scope is quite amazing.  It is 10 years.  It is the entire DRC.  It is got not simply the East.  It covers three different periods, three different governments in the Congo and it is really an exceptional product," said Colville.  

The published accounts of the draft UN report focuses on crimes committed by the Rwandan army and allied rebels in the DRC.  The report allegedly accuses them of widespread and systematic attacks against Rwandan Hutus who had fled into DRC, formerly known as Zaire, after the 1994 genocide.

During a three-month period in 1994, Rwandan Hutu extremists killed some 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus.

According to the media accounts, the draft report says Congolese Hutus also were targeted.  It adds such killings could amount to genocide if proven by a competent court.  The Rwandan government angrily dismisses these charges.

Colville refuses to discuss the allegations of genocide.  He says this, as well as all other issues, will be clarified when the final report is published.  He says the report deserves proper consideration.

"It was a very transparent public process," added Colville.  "It was a product of consultations among all the major parts of the U.N. involved in the DRC and very much rose out of the feeling that the scale of the problems in DRC and the scale of the impunity in particular-that Is really the driving force of it-was such that we really needed to have a very, very clear and thorough overview of it all, with a view to improvements, a view to improving the situation."  

About 20 human rights officers were involved in drafting the 545-page report.  Colville says they include top experts on international crimes and on human rights in the DRC.

He says the report contains hundreds and hundreds of human rights incidents between 1993 and 2003.  Although these events occurred some time ago, he says the issues in the report are not outdated.  He says they remain of relevance today.

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