DR Congo

DR Congo: MONUC Investigation Mission's preliminary report confirms human rights abuses by MLC and RCD-N

News and Press Release
Originally published
MONUC Investigation Mission's preliminary report confirms human rights abuses by MLC and RCD-N troops at Mambasa and in the villages on the Mambasa/Mangina main road.
On 31 December 2002, MONUC deployed a multidisciplinary Investigation team to Mambasa, Mangina, Beni, in North-Kivu and Ituri - consisting of members from the Human Rights, Child Protection, Civilian Police sections as well as two members from the Public Information Office - following the serious allegations of human rights abuses perpetrated by MLC and RCD-N troops during their occupation of Mambasa territory on 12th -29 October 2002, since their return to the territory on 29 November, and during their advance towards Beni.

The investigation team interviewed 368 peoples - victims and witnesses alike- during the two weeks spent in Mangina and Oicha villages where tens of thousands of displaced people found refuge.

The investigation mission received testimonies corroborating "systematic looting and rape as well as summary executions and abductions, as war weapons, practiced by MLC and RCD-N military forces (including 19 UPC elements during the period from 12-24 October), in an operation which the aggressors termed "erasing the blackboard" presented to the population as "a vaccination operation", aimed at looting every house and raping every woman". The summary executions particularly targeted the Nande community in Mambasa and the Pygmies as well as the populations in the villages located on Mambasa-Beni main road.

The report also confirms that among the people executed, mutilated and cannibalized, there were members of the Pygmies' community forced to leave the forest.

On 11th January, the preliminary report indicated:

  • 117 cases of arbitrary executions, most of which took place between 24 and 29 October. The victims were mutilated adult, and children who had their organs extracted while others were killed, mutilated and cannibalized.

  • The interviewed eyewitnesses and victims confirmed 65 cases of rapes, including child rapes.

  • Members of the interviewed families confirmed 82 cases of missing persons; over 40 women were forced to follow their torturers for sexual purposes, and men were abducted to carry the looted objects.

  • "Systematic" looting of public buildings, hospital, churches, and all residences in Mambasa.

  • The report indicates illegal arrests and detentions naming the victims. 29 unaccompanied children were mentioned, some of whom gave testimonies about the execution of their close relatives.

  • Several witnesses and victims gave the names of their aggressors and torturers.
MONUC investigation mission is still receiving testimonies from the thousands displaced in Oicha and Butembo.

The exact number of the victims is not determined to date. The preliminary report by MONUC investigation team was presented to the United Nations Security Council in New York and to the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva.

On 31st December 2002, Mr. Jean-Pierre Bemba, MLC leader, wrote a letter to the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General ensuring him of his full support in the investigations and collaboration with the investigation team up to the findings and pledged to punish those found guilty of exactions in Mambasa.