The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has asked the UN Human Rights Council to open an investigation into widespread violations and abuses in the Kasai regions of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The human rights violations include 42 mass graves documented by UN officials, who say the actual number may be higher. Those graves, according to UN human rights teams, were dug by Congolese national forces in recent months following clashes with Kamuina Nsapu militia in the Kasais.
Reports of extrajudicial killings, including children, and sexual violence also have been documented.
Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein’s request follows the OHCHR chief’s warning earlier this week that if the DR Congo failed to respond on a cooperative investigation, he planned to “insist on the creation of an international investigative mechanism for the Kasais.” Zeid requested that Congolese authorities support a credible, transparent investigation in May.
“The crimes committed in the Kasais appear to be of such gravity that they must be of concern to the international community as a whole, and in particular the Human Rights Council,” Zeid said in a statement Friday. “The scale and nature of these human rights violations and abuses, and the consistently inadequate responses of the domestic authorities, oblige us to call for an international investigation to complement national efforts.”
Since August 2016, some 1.27 million people from the Kasais have been internally displaced by the violence while some 30,000 refugees have fled to Angola. That violence began when a local chief, for whom the militia is named, was killed by the government’s FARDC forces.
Image: Human Rights Watch