Human Rights Watch accuses Congo Republic peacekeepers of killings

Tue Jun 7, 2016 10:36am EDT
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By Joe Bavier

ABIDJAN (Reuters) - Human Rights Watch on Tuesday accused soldiers from the Republic of Congo of killing 18 people, including women and children, while serving as United Nations and African Union peacekeepers in Central African Republic.

A Congolese defense ministry official, contacted in Brazzaville, said an investigation was underway and rejected claims it had ignored the allegations.

Central African Republic descended into chaos in March 2013 when predominantly Muslim Seleka rebels seized power, triggering reprisals by "anti-balaka" Christian militias.

The New York-based rights group said Congolese soldiers tortured two anti-balaka leaders to death in December 2013, publicly executed another two suspected anti-balaka in February 2014, and beat two civilians to death in June 2015.

HRW also said a mass grave found near a base once occupied by Congolese troops in the town of Boali was found to contain the remains of 12 people identified as having been detained by the peacekeepers on March 24, 2014.

"The discovery of 12 bodies is damning evidence of an appalling crime by Congolese peacekeepers, who had been sent to protect people, not prey on them," said HRW Africa researcher Lewis Mudge.

The United Nations took over peacekeeping responsibilities from the A.U. in Central African Republic in September 2014 and has since come under fire for rights violations alleged to have been committed by its soldiers. The HRW said the U.N. force had insisted the Congolese troops implicated in the alleged killings in Boali be sent home and replaced by new units.

"Simply rotating troops out of the Central African Republic with no further consequences sends the message that peacekeepers can get away with murder," Mudge said.   Continued...