from JEAN KASSONGO in Kinshasa, DRC
KINSHASA, (CAJ News) – THE resurgent M23 rebel group has summarily killed at least 29 civilians since mid-June in areas it controls in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
Human Rights Watch (HRW) disclosed that on June 21, following fighting around the village of Ruvumu, the armed group killed no less than 17 civilians, including two teenagers, whom they accused of informing the Congolese army from their positions and hiding places.
Some were reportedly shot as they tried to flee while others were executed at close range.
HRW stated the deliberate killings of civilians are serious violations of international humanitarian law, including the 1949 Geneva Conventions, and constitute war crimes.
Thomas Fessy, HRW senior researcher for DRC, said since the M23 took control of several towns and villages in North Kivu in June, it has committed the same type of horrific abuses against civilians documented in the past.
M23 has been largely inactive for a decade.
“The government’s failure to hold M23 commanders accountable for war crimes committed years ago allows them and their new recruits to perpetrate new abuses today,” Fessy said.
Fighting between Congolese soldiers and M23 has forced nearly 200 000 people to flee their homes.
According to the United Nations (UN) , around 20 000 children are at risk of not being able to take their end-of-year exams in July due to the clashes.
The resurgence of M23 comes as the security situation in eastern DRC has deteriorated over the past year.
Armed groups, and sometimes regular army soldiers, are responsible for violence widespread, unlawful killings and other serious abuses.
– CAJ News