UN report on Congo killings

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MARCO WERMAN: Conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo is the subject of a major United Nations report released today. The report details massacres committed in the DRC between 1993 and 2003. And it accuses forces from six African nations, Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi, Angola, Zimbabwe and Chad, of taking part in the atrocities. The UN Commissioner on Human Rights suggests some of the attacks could amount to genocide. And that's prompted an angry response. The World's Laura Lynch reports.

LAURA LYNCH: This report, first leaked in draft form in August, says the killings of tens of thousands of people, mainly Hutu refugees, was systematic, premeditated and widespread. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, says it maps out a series of atrocities in the DRC.

NAVI PILLAY: The DRC mapping report recounts almost 600 incidents of very serious violations of human rights, law and international humanitarian law and really the incidents that have been related to our team are truly appalling.

LYNCH: The report says the majority of victims were women, children, the elderly and the sick. It also states many were shot, raped, burned or beaten. The allegations against Rwandan and other forces are documented in detail. But Pillay says there's only one way to determine whether international laws were broken.

PILLAY: The crimes are very serious and it may point to the commission of crimes such as war crimes. It points to crimes against humanity, and in some instances may well amount to genocide. But the report makes clear that it's only a court of law that can determine what crimes are suspected of having been committed.

LYNCH: When a draft report was leaked in August, the Rwanda government reacted angrily at the genocide label, threatening to pull its peacekeepers from UN missions. The language in the final version is more nuanced, labeling the incidents as �apparent� attacks. But genocide is an especially volatile issue in Rwanda. The current government is credited with putting an end to the genocide in Rwanda in 1994. Today, the country's ambassador to the United Kingdom, Ernest Rwamuchio, rejected the final report as manipulative and fraudulent.

ERNEST RWAMUCHIO: We don't know actually even who were the witnesses in this report. There is a lot of manipulation that has been done by individuals and organizations that are involved in this report. Total lack of transparency and there's no fairness.

LYNCH: Rwamuchio and others also say the report could destabilize the region. A spokesman for the Ugandan foreign affairs ministry, Guma Muganda, speaking just before the report was released, said it would affect Uganda's contribution to the international peacekeeping operation in Somalia.

GUMA MUGANDA: If this report is published it's going to undermine our resolve to continue contributing to and participating in peacekeeping efforts.

LYNCH: But the Congolese ambassador to the United Nations, Atoki Ileka, says the report is credible and heartbreaking.

ATOKI ILEKA: This report is a first step towards justice for the million of Congolese who died directly or indirectly from the war, for the thousands of women and children who were continued to be raped as a consequence of that war.

LYNCH: Ileka says it's time to bring justice to the Congolese people. The report suggests the right way to do that is to establish a special court in the Democratic Republic of Congo to investigate and hear cases. That proposal may not be welcomed by all in the country. Congolese rebel forces stand among those accused of systematic killings of Hutus in the DRC. And those forces were led by none other than the father of the man who is now Congo's president. For The World, I'm Laura Lynch.