UN says DR Congo violence probe 'hampered'

The protests were called to demonstrate against the government of President Joseph Kabila who many in Congo fear is manoeuvering to stay in office indefinitely beyond the end of his term in December.

UN says DR Congo violence probe 'hampered'

World Bulletin / News Desk

The UN accused DR Congo's government Friday of obstructing its inquiry into violence that erupted at opposition protests in the capital Kinshasa last month, claiming dozens of lives. 

Investigators probing the deaths of 49 civilians and four police killed during violence on September 19 and 20 had "been hampered by several restrictions", the United Nations Joint Office for Human Rights (UNJHRO) said in a preliminary report.

"Since September 21, 2016, UNJHRO teams have notably been refused access, on the instruction of senior officials, to certain detention centres as well as to the official registers of some morgues and public hospitals," said the report.

"The denial of access has considerably impaired the work of the UNJHRO (which has) documented 422 victims of human rights violations by officials."

The UN warned that the total number of victims could ultimately be "considerably higher".

The report accused Congolese officials of "a disproportionate use of force, including lethal force... in response to protests organised by members of the opposition".

Congolese authorities could not be reached for comment Friday.

The government has previously blamed the opposition for the violence while opposition figures accused Kabila and his officials over the bloodshed.

Following the violence, the US Treasury blacklisted two top allies of Kabila who the US accused of violently putting down opposition to Kabila and undermining democratic forces in the country.

A deal was signed Tuesday that would keep Kabila in power until the election in April 2018.

One of Africa's biggest and most resource-rich countries, DR Congo has been ruled by Kabila since 2001, when his father Laurent was assassinated.

He was elected in 2006 to his first five-year term under a constitution that sets a two-term limit for presidents.

An opposition call for a protest strike on Wednesday was heeded in Kinshasa, where most shops were closed, but the appeal was ignored in the second city of Lubumbashi and Bukavu. 

Güncelleme Tarihi: 21 Ekim 2016, 17:53