“Leaked UN genocide report on DR Congo has no legal value”, says Rwanda
The leaked UN report in which Rwanda is accused of possibly genocide during years of conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), has been received “very, very, very badly in Rwanda”. The director of a Rwandan radio station told Radio Netherlands: “This UN report has no legal value whatsoever!”
By Lula Ahrens and Sophie van Leeuwen.
“All these years the UN has failed in Rwanda and in eastern Congo. And now…”, Albert Rudatsimburwa, journalist and director of the Rwandese radiostation Contact FM, says, “Rwandans haven’t been asked one single question! Only NGO’s are quoted.”
In a fierce reaction, Rwandese minister of Justice Tharcisse Karagurama called the UN-report “worthless”. “An NGO-report with no basis”, the minister told the BBC. The draft report was published by French newspaper Le Monde on Friday. It outlines the findings of the UN project ‘Mapping Justice Congo’, which was launched two years ago.
In the report, the UN High Commissioner for human rights catalogues war crimes among Rwandan Hutus in the East of DRC between 1996 and 2003. They were jointly committed by current Rwandan president Paul Kagame’s forces and the Congolese rebel group AFDL. AFDL was sponsored by Rwanda and led by Laurent Kabila, the current DRC president. Up to 100,000 Hutu’s were reportedly killed in the attacks.
Two Rwandan invasions
The report covers two Rwandan invasions in East Congo. The first was carried out in pursuit of Hutu soldiers in Congo, who aimed to wage war against the new Tutsi-led government in neighbouring Rwanda after the Rwandan civil war. This invasion led to the fall of Zaire’s dictator Mobutu Sese Seko and the presidency of Laurent Kabila.
Rwanda carried out its second invasion in 1998, after the country accused Kabila’s regime of continuing to support Hutu rebels. This invasion evolved into a large-scale, five-year regional war involving eight countries and 21 rebel groups.
The crimes committed among this group constitute genocide if proven in court, the report states. Although the Rwandan government allowed large numbers of Hutu refugees to return to Rwanda, that did not “rule out the intention of destroying part of an ethnic group as such and thus committing a crime of genocide”.
“The extensive use of non-firearms, particularly hammers, and the systematic massacres of survivors after camps were taken prove that the number of deaths cannot be put down to the margins of war. Among the victims were mostly children, women, old and ill people”.
Blow to Rwanda
The report is perceived as a major blow to the Rwandan government, which prides itself on putting an end to the Rwandan genocide and quickly modernising the country after the war. Rwanda is a close ally of the US and Britain.
It might also prove hugely embarrassing to UN Secretary-General Ban ki-Moon and the UN in general. The final version of the report, which according to a UN spokesperson is to be released “soon”, has reportedly been changed considerably under pressure from Rwandan president Kagame. Kagame is said to have warned Ban Ki-moon that Rwanda will otherwise pull out its peacekeeping troops in other African countries.