March 27, 2009 / 6:46 PM / 10 years ago

EU fails to reistate UN rights expert on Congo

* EU fails in bid to reinstate U.N. rights expert on Congo

* Council adopts resolution submitted by African countries

GENEVA, March 27 (Reuters) - African states lined up on Friday to block a European Union move to reinstate a U.N. human rights expert for the Democratic Republic of Congo, where human rights abuses are continuing after years of warfare.

The United Nations Human Rights Council, where Islamic and African states hold a majority, dropped its independent expert for the former Zaire exactly a year ago.

Groups of developing countries on the council often work together to deflect what they see as unjustified intrusion into their neighbours’ affairs.

On Friday, the Geneva forum rejected amendments put forward by the EU which would have appointed an expert for a year. Instead it adopted a resolution from African countries which did not refer to the fighting in troubled North Kivu province.

Congo is recovering from a 1998-2003 war and resulting humanitarian catastrophe that has killed an estimated 5.4 million people in a decade. The conflict sucked in half a dozen African nations, including neighbouring Rwanda in the wake of its 1994 genocide.

Thousands of Rwandan troops left the border province in late February after a month-long joint offensive with the Congolese army against Rwandan Hutu rebels.

The EU also lost its bid to insert stronger, condemnatory language into the African resolution put forward by Egypt.

Germany’s envoy Konrad Scharinger took the floor on behalf of the EU to voice serious concern at the "dire human rights situation on the ground" in Congo.

He cited "continuing violations including reprisals against the civilian population, recruitment of child solders by armed groups, and ongoing and widespread acts of sexual violence against women and children which remain extremely worrying".

Sexual violence was being "used by members of armed groups or security forces as a weapon of war", he added.

The 47-member state forum rejected the EU amendments and adopted the African resolution by 33 votes in favour, none against with 14 abstentions including EU members.

The African text calls for providing greater technical assistance on human rights issues to Congo. "The text does not shy away from the difficulties facing the Democratic Republic of Congo," Egypt’s delegate told the talks.

Experts on specific human rights issues would continue to work in Congo and report back in a year, he said. (Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Matthew Jones)

0 : 0
  • narrow-browser-and-phone
  • medium-browser-and-portrait-tablet
  • landscape-tablet
  • medium-wide-browser
  • wide-browser-and-larger
  • medium-browser-and-landscape-tablet
  • medium-wide-browser-and-larger
  • above-phone
  • portrait-tablet-and-above
  • above-portrait-tablet
  • landscape-tablet-and-above
  • landscape-tablet-and-medium-wide-browser
  • portrait-tablet-and-below
  • landscape-tablet-and-below