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UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs

DRC: UN warns Ituri massacre perpetrators may face international court

NAIROBI, 9 April 2003 (IRIN) - The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Sergio Vieira de Mello, warned on Tuesday that those behind last week's massacre in the Ituri district of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) could be charged before the International Criminal Court (ICC).

"The perpetrators of these atrocities will be put under the spotlight and will have to answer for their actions," de Mello said in a statement.

The ICC in The Hague is the first permanent international tribunal established to try cases of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.

De Mello said he was "seriously alarmed" by the report of the UN mission in DRC, known as MONUC, on the "savage" killings that took place in the town of Drodro, northeastern DRC. He called on all parties to the conflict in Ituri to identify those responsible for these "criminal and odious" acts and bring them to justice.

The UN Security Council on Tuesday requested the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to initiate an investigation into the massacre in Ituri district and report to the Council as soon as possible. Members of the Council condemned the killings and called for the perpetrators to be identified and brought to justice.

News agencies reported on Wednesday that Pope John Paul made a "grief-stricken appeal" to Congolese leaders to stop massacres in the DRC.

In a separate development, Antoine Mindua Kesia-Mbe, representing the government of the DRC, told the UN Commission on Human Rights in Geneva on Tuesday that human rights abuses were "widespread" in rebel-occupied areas of the DRC. He called on the Commission and the UN Security Council to pay greater attention to human rights violations in occupied territory, and called for an international criminal court to punish perpetrators of crimes in the eastern part of the country.


Themes: (IRIN) Human Rights



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