The Enough Project joined a coalition of human rights organizations, which includes Open Society Foundation and Humanity United, urging the U.S. government to pressure the U.N. Security Council to release all of the U.N. Group of Expert’s most recent findings related to Congo. In a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, the groups expressed concern that the publication of a crucial annex linking the government of Rwanda to the M23 mutiny in Congo was being postponed for political reasons.
The U.N. Group of Experts on Congo is a well-respected collection of independent researchers, established by U.N. Security Council Resolution 1533 (2004) and dedicated to investigating human rights violations, the security situation, and resource exploitation in Congo. The censoring of their work shields actors engaging in illegal activities in Congo from accountability.
There are credible reports, including a leaked MONUSCO report, documenting Rwandan military support to the M23 rebellion and to international war crimes suspect, Bosco Ntaganda. Reuters reported that, according to notes from their briefing to a closed-door U.N. committee, U.N. experts have evidence linking Rwanda's defense minister and two top military to mutiny in eastern Congo. The U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights noted, “The leaders of the M23 figure among the worst perpetrators of human rights violations in the DRC, or in the world for that matter.”
Recent news reports state that the U.S. government has been a main proponent of holding back the complete report’s publication, despite strong protests from the Congolese government. In the letter, the human rights groups stated that any decision by the U.S. government to block or delay the full publication of the information would indicate that the U.S.’s commitment to prevent atrocities wherever they are committed, as affirmed by President Obama as recently as April, is wavering.
The U.S. government should not attempt to protect Rwanda from scrutiny if the regime in Kigali is supporting human rights violators in eastern Congo. Currently, the U.S. government is pushing for Rwanda to be given time to review the Group of Experts’ findings before they are published—a position that is unprecedented. Standard practice is for countries to review such documents after their publication; this case should be no exception.
The coalition letter closes by urging that the U.N. report must be released in full, and that if Rwanda’s support for the Congolese rebellion proves to be true, the U.S. must critically re-evaluate foreign aid, including military aid, provided to Kigali by U.S. taxpayers.
Photo: Congolese soldiers (Enough / Laura Heaton)