The United Nation’s representative for DR Congo said in a report on Wednesday “Former rebels should not be given amnesty in the long-running efforts to bring peace and stability to the country’s war-torn east”.
“We should not grant amnesty,” the head of the UN’s MONSUCO peace-keeping mission Leila Zerrougui told a news conference when asked about the shortcomings of the so-called Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration programme for armed groups in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Under DDR programmes, rebels are reintegrated into the national army.
“Granting amnesty would be saying that the facts never existed,” said the Algerian diplomat.
“Did you see how they cut people into pieces in the villages?” she asked, referring to a string of atrocities attributed to the Allied Democratic Forces in North Kivu and the Cooperative for the Development of Congo in Ituri.
The ADF is a mainly Muslim movement that originated in Uganda in the 1990s and has been blamed for more than 1,000 civilian deaths in the Beni region of North Kivu province since 2014.
CODECO is an armed political-religious sect in Ituri drawn from the Lendu ethnic group.
Conflict erupted between the Lendu, mainly farmers, and the Hema, herders and traders, in the gold-mining and oil-rich Ituri province between 1999 and 2003, killing tens of thousands.
“What about the victims?” Zerrougui asked.
“People who commit serious crimes must answer for their actions. We can forgive. Society can decide do so,” she said. But “there must be a form of justice”.
Zerrougui said that granting amnesty was tantamount to rewarding the perpetrators for their crimes.
“We cannot continue to reward killers. We must stop this systematic integration into the army and this distribution of ranks,” she said.