March 11, 2015 / 10:58 PM / 3 years ago

U.N. peacekeepers barred seven Congolese officers over rights records

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The United Nations peacekeeping mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo barred seven Congolese army and police officers from receiving support after ruling there was a “real risk” they could commit human rights abuses, according to a U.N. report.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that in the past 10 weeks the mission, known as MONUSCO, had screened the human rights records of 116 Congolese army officers and eight police officers after receiving requests from them for U.N. support.

Under the United Nations human rights due diligence policy, the world body has to ensure its support to non-U.N. security forces does not contribute to grave human rights violations.

“Seven officers were deemed ineligible for support, as well as any units they command, based on their background and due to the existence of substantial grounds for believing that there was a real risk of the intended recipient committing grave human rights violations,” Ban said in a March 10 report to the U.N. Security Council, obtained by Reuters.

The report, which covers the period since Dec. 30, said the mission received 12 requests for U.N. support related to joint military operations in eastern Congo and 26 linked to other support such as transport, fuel, rations and training.

It does not say what support requests were tied to each of the seven barred officers. It also does not say how many were army or police officers.

On Feb. 13 the U.N. mission suspended support to Congolese troops for operations against Rwandan FDLR rebels because two of the generals involved were accused of abuses, the report said. It did not specify if the generals were counted among the seven barred officers or separate.

The Democratic Republic of Congo mission to the United Nations dismissed the accusations.

“Those are just allegations,” Congolese U.N. diplomat Zenon Mukongo Ngay said. “They don’t have evidence.”

The FDLR includes former soldiers and Hutu militiamen responsible for Rwanda’s 1994 genocide and has been at the heart of years of conflict in Central Africa’s Great Lakes region.

U.N. peacekeepers had been jointly planning an offensive with the Congolese army (FARDC) against the FDLR, which the U.N. estimates has 1,400 rebels in eastern Congo.

“Armed groups and elements of the national security forces continue to commit human rights abuses, including rape, extra-judicial killings, violations against minors, arbitrary arrest, torture and abduction,” Ban added.

Reporting by Michelle Nichols. Editing by Andre Grenon

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