A leaked United Nations report which claims that the Rwandan army may have carried out genocide in Congo, between 1993 and 2003 is to be removed from the final version of the document due to be presented next week by the UNHCHR, as it may stir tensions between Rwanda and the United Nations.
The UN report details crimes committed in the Congo where thousands of people died, most from hunger and disease rather than violence, during the five-year conflict involving six foreign armies, including Rwanda’s Tutsi-led force.
According to the reports, Rwanda’s army, after quashing the 1994 genocide in Rwanda invaded Congo to hunt down Hutu fighters who had taken part in the killings and then fled into the east of Congo, known then as Zaire.
Rwandan forces in the process of hunting down Hutu extremists engaged in a string of rights abuses against Hutu soldiers and civilians across the country.
“The systematic and widespread attacks (against Hutus in Congo) described … reveal a number of damning elements that, if proven before a competent court, could be classified as crimes of genocide,” said the report, seen by Reuters on Thursday.
“The extensive use of edged weapons … and the systematic massacres of survivors after (Hutu) camps had been taken show that the numerous deaths cannot be attributed to the hazards of war or seen as equating to collateral damage.”
Nevertheless, a spokesman for the U.N.’s High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCHR), which drafted the 545-page report, said the leaked document was a draft, and had some errors.
As revealed by Reuters, the report contains details of some 600 serious crimes perpetuated by various forces from a number of countries.
Congo expert and author Jason Stearns said Rwanda comes off worst, and diplomats were disputing over whether to include the highly sensitive genocide accusation in the final version of the document.
“The allegation that the Rwandan army could be guilty of acts of genocide against Hutu refugees will greatly tarnish the reputation of a government that prides itself of having brought to an end the genocide against Tutsis in Rwanda,” Stearns was quoted as saying.
If the genocide accusation claims in the reports are released, experts say it will rock the Rwanda government of President Paul Kagame which according to France’s Le Monde newspaper, has threatened to withdraw its peacekeepers from Sudan over the charges.