Human Rights Council: Words Are Not Enough – Civilians in Eastern DRC Need More Than Half Measures

For Immediate Release

Human Rights Council: Words Are Not Enough – Civilians in Eastern DRC Need More Than Half Measures

LONDON - The population of the eastern Democratic
Republic of Congo need actions that will bring an end to repetitive
cycles of gross human rights violations, rather than mere words,
Amnesty International said today. The organization's call came as the
United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) unanimously adopted a
resolution expressing its concern at the deteriorating situation in
North Kivu and calling for an immediate end to all human rights
violations.  

"We regret that the Council expended so much time and energy on
reaching agreement to make these important political statements that it
could not find the political courage and unity of purpose to adopt
practical measures to give effect to them," said Peter Splinter,
Amnesty International's representative at the United Nations Geneva
office.

In the Special Session devoted to address the situation of human
rights in Eastern DRC, the Council condemned the acts of violence and
human rights violations and abuses committed there, and stressed the
importance of bringing all perpetrators to justice.

While the Council's resolution usefully calls on the Government of
the DRC to investigate and bring to justice perpetrators of human
rights violations, it includes no practical measures to combat
impunity.  

The Council remained silent on the need for the Government and the
international community to expedite the rehabilitation and reform of
the DRC courts and policing services. It says nothing about the
establishment of an independent and effective vetting process to
exclude from the security forces persons reasonably suspected of having
committed crimes under international law or other human rights
violations. No support is offered for the contribution of the
International Criminal Court to addressing impunity or for the DRC
Government's cooperation with the Court in this regard.

"Political jockeying, this time having nothing to do with the human
rights situation in the East of the DRC, has once again stood in the
way of the Human Rights Council living up to its potential to
contribute to the protection of the victims of human rights
violations," said Peter Splinter. "Once again the majority of members
of the Council have been content to be silent witnesses to a tug-of-war
between the African Group position and the European Union, rather than
active contributors to an outcome demanded by the situation."

Amnesty International welcomes the Council's emphasis on the
importance of strengthening the mandate of MONUC and its call on all
states to immediately provide assistance to MONUC. However, the Council
should have called for a stronger human rights component, including by
calling for the deployment of more human rights officers and supporting
reporting on the human rights situation to the Council and other parts
of the UN.

The Council has done nothing to ensure that the efforts of the UN
Secretary-General's Special Envoy, Olusegun Obasanjo, will also be
informed by human rights considerations or practical measures that will
take account of the need for justice and accountability to break the
repeated cycle of massive human rights violations.  

"This is a measure that approaches self-inflicted blindness. The
Council has mandated a weak follow-up procedure that will depend on
already over-taxed human rights experts to keep it informed of
developments in the eastern DRC," said Peter Splinter. "Instead, the
HRC should have put in place a mechanism dedicated to enquiring into
and reporting back to the HRC and other parts of the UN on the human
rights situation in the region."

"It is time for all members of the Human Rights Council to assume
their responsibility to effectively address situations of gross and
systematic violations of human rights.  The half measures that they
served the population of the eastern DRC today are not enough."

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