UN asks Congo to arrest army officers

Associated Press / May 20, 2009
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KINSHASA, Congo - The UN Security Council said yesterday that it had asked the Congolese government to investigate and arrest five high-ranking army officers known to have committed atrocities.

The officers joined the Congolese army after leaving their rebel groups as part of a peace deal.

The United Nations offered no specifics on the accusations against the five men but human-rights groups have said that members of the army have raped, robbed, and killed civilians in recent months.

Improving the dismal performance of the army is a key step in the process of eventually reducing the size and cost of the world's largest UN peacekeeping mission.

Jean-Maurice Ripert, France's ambassador to the UN, said, "We even provided the government with the names of people whom we wished to see judged and arrested. We got a commitment from the government that encourages us."

Human Rights Watch, an independent international rights group, said yesterday that soldiers were responsible for 143 rapes in the north Kivu province since January, over half the 250 rapes it had documented.

It said the army had also killed at least 19 civilians in the same period.

Prime Minister Adolphe Muzito acknowledged the government should be doing more to bring stability to Congo, which has been racked by conflict since genocidal forces from Rwanda fled into its forested mountains 15 years ago.