KIGALI - The Government of Rwanda yesterday described the leaked draft report by the UN, “DRC Mapping Exercise”, as malicious, offensive and ridiculous.
The report that is set to be published sometime next month was first leaked in the French newspaper Le Monde and accuses Rwandan soldiers of committing crimes in the Democratic Republic of Congo in the last decade.
“The timing of the leak of this draft report is quite revealing; it appears that the UN is attempting to divert international attention from its latest failure in the Great Lakes Region where recently, hundreds of Congolese women were savagely raped under the watch of its peacekeeping force MONUSCO,” reads a statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The statement continues that this is a situation directly resulting from its failure to manage the post-Genocide refugee crisis of 1994 in the then Zaire.
“It is immoral and unacceptable that the United Nations, an organization that failed outright to prevent genocide in Rwanda and the subsequent refugees crisis, a direct cause for so much suffering in Congo and Rwanda, now accuses the army that stopped the genocide of committing atrocities in the Democratic Republic of Congo.” said Ben Rutsinga, an official from the ministry.
Earlier this week, it was revealed that the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) and Congolese Mai-Mai militias attacked and gang raped nearly 180 Congolese women and some children in a series of attacks between July 30 and August 3, in the Walikale region of eastern DRC’s North Kivu Province.
The UN mission in DRC (MONUSCO) reportedly did not know about the latest Walikale atrocities until more than a week after. International Medical Corps (IMC), an aid group that first revealed the incident, said a UN base was only 10 kms away from the scene.
The government statement says the ‘leaked’ report is a dangerous and irresponsible document that under the guise of human rights can only achieve instability in the region and undermine ongoing stabilization efforts, particularly at a time when unprecedented progress is being made in establishing peace, security and economic collaboration.
Earlier yesterday, sections of the international media reported about a purportedly ‘leaked’ UN draft report incriminating the Rwandan army, and a former Congolese rebel group, the AFDL, in alleged mass killings of Rwandan refugees in the DRC from 1994-2003.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has reportedly warned the report’s authors to verify the legal basis of their accusations.
“Given the gravity of its mission, the Mapping Team’s failure to consult with Rwanda, even though they found time to meet with over 200 NGO representatives, is shocking and shows complete disregard for fundamental fairness,” Rutsinga added.
“While NGOs are entitled to their opinions, their work should not form basis of Genocide or war crimes allegations against Rwanda or any other nation. Why such due diligence eluded a team of supposedly seasoned human rights investigators is hard to fathom”.
The government further stresses that the UN report makes extremely serious allegations – of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity “based on questionable methodology, sourcing and shockingly low standard of proof”.
“By its own admission, the Mapping Team “was not concerned with pursuing in-depth investigations or gathering evidence of sufficient admissibility to stand in court, meaning that they employed the lowest evidentiary standard to investigate these allegations,” Rutsinga said.
As noted, according to Rutsinga, the report fundamentally misrepresents the episodes it describes by failing to explain the circumstances at play during the difficult period in Rwanda’s history.
“It is a fact that Rwanda’s intervention in the DRC was a matter of survival and the direct consequence of the irresponsible and insensitive management of the refugee camps by the UN and the international community subsequent to the genocide,” he said.
“Rwanda, at great cost and sacrifice, managed to turn around a tragic situation and create new era of regional collaboration and increasing prosperity”.