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Special Report: Summary of fact finding missions on alleged human rights violations committed by the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) in the districts of Haut-Uélé and Bas-Uélé in Orientale province of the Democratic Republic of Congo

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I. Summary

1. This report provides a summary of the investigative and fact finding missions conducted between May 2008 and June 2009, by teams of officers from the United Nations Joint Human Rights Office (UNJHRO) in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), on human rights violations committed by the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), under the command of Joseph Kony and senior officers, some of whom have had arrest warrants issued against them by the ICC. The report focuses on the attacks from September 2008 to June 2009.

2. During the 14 missions conducted by the UNJHRO to investigate violations committed by the LRA in the districts of Haut-Uélé and Bas-Uélé, dozens of meetings and site visits were conducted and hundreds of testimonies were collected from victims and witnesses.

3. According to information collected by the UNJHRO, specifically during its missions in the towns and villages of the territories of Dungu, Faradje, Watsa and Niangara in the district of Haut-Uélé, and Ango and Poko, in the district of Bas-Uélé, in the northeast of Orientale province, the provisional toll from attacks carried out by the LRA against civilians between September 2008 and June 2009 is as follows:

- at least 1,200 civilians killed by gunshot and knife wounds, including some women who were raped before their execution;

- more than 100 people wounded by gunshot and stabbing;

- over 1,400 people abducted, including men, some of whom were executed or are missing, at least 630 children (girls and boys), and more than 400 women. During their captivity, the abductees were subject to forced labour in the fields, forced to carry looted goods or personal effects or recruited into the LRA. Women were forced to marry LRA members, subjected to sexual slavery, or both;

- thousands of homes, dozens of shops and businesses, as well as public buildings, including at least thirty schools, health centres, hospitals, churches, markets, and traditional seats of chiefdoms, were looted, set on fire, or both;

- over 200,000 people displaced. Those displaced have been living in precarious conditions due to the slow delivery of humanitarian aid. These displaced people were also subjected to human rights violations committed by FARDC soldiers, who were supposed to protect them.

4. These attacks and systematic and widespread human rights violations carried out by the LRA since mid-September 2008 against Congolese civilians during the armed conflict may constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity for which there is no statute of limitations under international law. It should be recalled that the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court defines certain human rights violations as crimes against humanity. These acts, committed with knowledge as part of a widespread or systematic attack against any civilian population include, inter alia, murder, torture, rape, sexual slavery and enforced disappearance of persons.