The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has released a report documenting atrocities in the Democratic Republic of Congo, or DRC, in the decade between March 1993 and June 2003. The report recounts brutal and horrific mass killings, rape and other abuses during the period in question.
The U.N. report on the DRC documents 617 violent incidents investigated throughout the territory of the DRC and describes the possible role of various Congolese and foreign parties in some of the horrific acts of violence. Such atrocities demand justice.
The cycle of violence and abuses in the DRC will only stop if those responsible for these crimes are held to account. It is up to the Congolese government - with support of regional governments and donors - to ensure that there is no impunity for acts like those described in the report. Credible and independent mechanisms that promote accountability are necessary for sustainable peace and stability in the region.
The UN report also highlights many of the difficulties within the Congolese justice system that hinder prosecution of those responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity, despite efforts by the government and the international community to reform it. While appalling war crimes have been committed in the DRC against tens of thousands of victims, the report states that only about a dozen cases have been heard in Congolese courts for such crimes since 1993.
The United States strongly supports accountability for violations of human rights and international humanitarian law around the world, including in the DRC. The U.S. welcomes the improvement in regional relations since the reporting period and calls on more countries in the region to continue to collaborate closely to stop the ongoing atrocities in the DRC.
The millions of victims of conflict in the DRC must never be forgotten. Accountability is an important step toward ensuring that more atrocities do not occur. It is time to end the corrosive cycle of violence and impunity in the Democratic Republic of Congo.