UN leader Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday condemned the alleged desecration of the bodies of rebels in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo by government forces, the UN spokesman said.
“The secretary general is deeply concerned about reports of alleged mistreatment of M23 detainees and desecration of corpses of M23 combatants by the Congolese armed forces,” said Ban’s spokesman Martin Nesirky.
The UN mission in DR Congo, Monusco, “has raised this matter at the highest level” with the army “and welcomes steps by the Congolese army to investigate these claims and to hold the perpetrators of these acts accountable,” added the spokesman.
Images of DR Congo soldiers prodding the body of an M23 rebel fighter have been shown on the internet. The M23 has launched a new offensive on the major eastern city of Goma and scores of rebels have been killed in fighting this week.
The desecration of bodies is the latest scandal to hit the Armed Forces of the DR Congo, known under the acronym FARDC, as it battles to secure control in the east of the country.
In November after the army fled a previous M23 onslaught against Goma, soldiers were accused of raping at least 130 women and girls, some as young as six, in a two day rampage around the town of Minova in South Kivu province.
The UN launched one review of its links with the FARDC then and has started a new investigation after the latest incidents, Nesirky said.
“In line with the United Nations Human Rights Due Diligence Policy, Monusco has launched the process of reviewing its support to FARDC units suspected of being involved in these incidents,” said the spokesman.
Ban calls on the DR Congo authorities “to bring the perpetrators of these reported acts to justice and underlines that mistreatment of detainees is a violation of human rights and international humanitarian law,” added Nesirky. The worst clashes in eastern DR Congo, at the heart of a region where millions have died in conflict over the past two decades, erupted on Sunday. The army said on Monday that at least 130 people had been killed including 10 soldiers.
DR Congo has accused neighboring Rwanda of taking part in the offensive. Rwanda has in turn accused Congo and UN forces of shelling two border villages in its territory.
The fighting is seen as a threat to a peace accord brokered by Ban in February and which was signed by 11 African nations, including DR Congo and Rwanda. AFP