The United Nations has called for an “independent” probe following the killing of dozens of people in a crackdown on an anti-UN forces protest in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
“There needs to be an investigation… and the perpetrators need to be brought to justice,” UN rights office spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani told reporters in Geneva.
The UN said it has spoken with the DRC authorities to ensure a probe they have opened “is independent, effective, and that measures are put in place to ensure that future demonstrations are policed in line with international human rights standards,” she said.
The DRC was thrown into chaos after soldiers prevented a religious sect from holding a demonstration against UN peacekeepers in Goma.
According to the rights office’s assessment, at least 43 people were killed, including a police officer, and 56 were injured, Shamdasani said, adding that the death toll could be higher.
An internal army document seen by AFP on Thursday and validated by security officials put the dead toll at 48, in addition to the slain cop, and 75 others injured.
The UN official added that no fewer than 222 people were reportedly arrested, including women and children, and warned “the risk of human rights violations in such a charged context is high”.
For three decades, Eastern DRC has been pillaged by militia violence, an outcome of regional hostilities that erupted in the 1990s and 2000s.
With a yearly budget of almost $1 billion, the UN peacekeeping mission there is one of the largest and most expensive in the world.
The UN force, known as MONUSCO, has been faulted by locals over its inability end the raging conflict in the DRC.
Relations between the locals and the UN forces remain unimpressive. In 2022, scores of Congolese were killed in anti-UN rallies , including four peacekeepers.