November 27, 2008 / 8:06 AM / 11 years ago

Rights group calls for U.N. apology over Congo post

By Robert Evans

GENEVA, Nov 26 (Reuters) - The United Nations Human Rights Council should apologise for having abolished its post of rights monitor for the Democratic Republic of Congo earlier this year, a non-governmental group said on Wednesday.

The Geneva-based UN Watch said the 47-member state body should be held to account for getting rid of its special rapporteur for the Congo, given the abuses and atrocities people there are now enduring.

"Morally, those countries (on the Council) who were behind the elimination of the monitoring mandate in March ought now to apologise to the victims of Congo," UN Watch executive director Hillel Neuer said ahead of the Human Rights Council’s emergency session on conditions in Congo, scheduled for Friday.

The one-day special session was called at the request of mainly European and Latin American states, following requests from rights bodies such as Amnesty International for the Council to take action over the Congo crisis.

A report prepared by the office of U.N. Secrtetary-General Ban Ki-moon, obtained by Reuters earlier this week, accused both government and rebel forces in the former Zaire of carrying out mass killings, rape and torture.

Several rights groups are calling for the re-establishment of the Council’s independent monitoring post for Congo, which was eliminated with the support of Egypt, Algeria, Tunisia, Russia and other countries after the administration of President Joseph Kabila in Kinshaha argued there was no need for it.

"We will never know how many lives could have been saved if the Council, deferring to Congo’s government, had not caused this unconscionable protection gap which slashed an early- warning mechanism just when the victims needed it most," Neuer said in a statement.

Over the past two years the Council has abolished the posts of several other location-specific special rapporteurs, including those in Belarus, Cuba and Sudan’s Darfur region.

Since its launch in 2006 to replace the U.N. Human Rights Commission, the Council has held four special sessions on Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians, one on Myanmar, one on Darfur, and one on the global food crisis. (Editing by Laura MacInnis and Richard Balmforth)

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