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For Immediate Release
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Prosecute Those Responsible for Abuses in Congo, Says Amnesty International, Responding to U.N. "Mapping" Report

United Nations Report on Decade of Human Rights Abuses in Congo Must be Followed by Prosecutions or Cycle of Violence Will Continue, Amnesty International Warns


A United Nations report released
today that documents gross human rights violations in the Democratic Republic
of Congo (DRC) must be translated into action to hold those responsible
to account, Amnesty International said.

Salil Shetty, Amnesty International's Secretary General, said: "It is
now up to the Congolese government -- with support of regional governments
and donors -- to ensure the conclusions of the report are translated into
concrete action. This means investigating and prosecuting those responsible
for the horrific crimes perpetrated in the DRC and awarding reparations
to the victims.

"The cycle of violence and abuses will
only stop if those responsible for crimes under international law are held
to account," said Shetty. "The publication of this report should
be the beginning of a process to ensure accountability in the Great Lakes
region and not the end of it."

Amnesty International has reported that civilians in the DRC continue to
be the victims of mass killings, extrajudicial executions, forced recruitment
of child soldiers, torture, rape and other forms of sexual violence and
enforced disappearances.

The so-called U.N. mapping report is the most
comprehensive investigation into serious human rights violations committed
in the DRC between March 1993 and June 2003. The report by the Office of
the High Commissioner for Human Rights documents the most serious violations
of human rights and humanitarian law and presents a series of possible
options to bring those perpetrators to justice.

Amnesty International urges the Congolese government and the United
Nations to urgently develop a long-term, comprehensive plan to end impunity
for crimes committed during the decade covered by the report as well as
for crimes that continue to be committed on a daily basis.

The report also highlights the inability of the Congolese justice system
to try those responsible for war crimes, despite some efforts by the government
and international community to reform it.

While appalling crimes have been committed in the DRC by tens of thousands
of perpetrators, the report states that only 12 trials for such crimes
have taken place since 1993 -- all in military rather than civilian courts
-- and only two of those trials involved crimes committed between
1993 and June 2003.

In addition, only four people have been named in arrest warrants issued
by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for crimes committed in DRC.
These include General Bosco Ntaganda, who the DRC government not only refuses
to arrest, but has promoted to the rank of general in its armed forces.

"Unless perpetrators are held criminally responsible and the truth about
human rights abuses is established, peace and stability throughout the
Great Lakes region will not be achieved," warned Shetty.

"Recent reports of mass rapes in the Walikale region, eastern DRC, show
all too clearly how vulnerable the civilians still are, and how the lack
of investigation and prosecution of grave abuses against civilians sends
a signal that perpetrators can continue to act in complete impunity,"
he said.

Amnesty International is a global movement of millions of people demanding human rights for all people - no matter who they are or where they are. We are the world's largest grassroots human rights organization.

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