Kinshasa (AFP) – The United Nations named three international experts on Wednesday to investigate atrocities in the Kasai region of the Democratic Republic of Congo, some of which have involved government troops.
Experts from Senegal, Canada and Mauritania will be tasked with investigating the massacres in Kasai, according to a statement from the UN’s human rights body, the OHCHR.
President Joseph Kabila’s administration rejected a proposal to send an independent mission there to investigate the violence.
Under the compromise deal, Kinshasha will cooperate with the investigators who will in turn share their information with the authorities. And anyone suspected of involvement in the killings will be tried in Congo’s courts.
Government troops, militia fighters and police officers have all been implicated in the killings, with a military court having already jailed government soldiers for killing civilians.
The violence in Kasai erupted last September after the death in clashes of a tribal chieftain, known as the Kamwina Nsapu, who rebelled against the authority of Kabila’s regime in Kinshasa and its local representatives.
The killing sparked violence that has escalated, including gross alleged violations of human rights such as extrajudicial killings, rapes, torture and the use of child soldiers.
Two Western experts sent to investigate the conflict by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres went missing in March. Their bodies were found in a shallow grave by peacekeepers a fortnight later.
The government blamed the tribal militia for their murders and the trial of their alleged killers opened last month.
In less than a year, the violence has claimed more than 3,300 lives, according to a tally by the influential Roman Catholic Church, and displaced 1.4 million people.
Around 80 mass graves have been uncovered in the region and the UN children’s agency says more than 600,000 of the displaced are children.