PRESS STATEMENT BY SECURITY COUNCIL PRESIDENT ON EVENTS
IN BURUNDI, DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO
Following is the press statement made by Juan Antonio Yañez-Barnuevo (Spain), President of the Security Council, on 3 September:
The Security Council was briefed today by Assistant Secretary-General Hedi Annabi with an update on the special report from the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC) on the events which occurred in the district of Ituri in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo between January 2002 and December 2003, and on the preliminary findings of a UN investigation into the massacre recently committed in the refugee camp of Gatumba in the Republic of Burundi.
The members of the Council expressed their appreciation for the detailed inquiry carried out by MONUC on the appalling events which took place in Ituri in the period 2002-2003, which included serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law.
The Council members noted that some improvement of the situation in Ituri has been effected, thanks to the action, firstly, of the Artemis operation conducted by the European Union and then by the deployment of the Ituri brigade of MONUC. However, they expressed concern for the still fragile situation in the area and stressed the need for the DRC transitional government to continue efforts to extend State authority and rule of law in Ituri.
The members of the Council reaffirmed the need to put an end to impunity and to bring to justice those responsible for the massive violations of human rights and international humanitarian law committed in Ituri.
The need to reinforce security in Ituri and elsewhere in the DRC, as well as to assist the DRC authorities in dealing with serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law in the country, will be an important concern of Council members as they continue the examination of the Secretary-General’s report on the mandate and means to the disposal of MONUC.
The members of the Council also expressed concern at the report that a Moroccan member of MONUC has been abducted in Ituri and strongly appealed for his immediate release.
The Security Council received today a preliminary oral report on the ongoing investigation, which is being jointly conducted by the United Nations Operation in Burundi (ONUB), MONUC and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, into the massacre committed on 13 August in the refugee camp of Gatumba in the Republic of Ituri.
The investigation into the Gatumba massacre continues and the Council will return to the issue in the light of further information from the UN Secretariat.
The members of the Council, reaffirming their condemnation of this murderous attack on defenceless refugees, expressed the expectation to receive a final report on this investigation very soon so that full light is thrown on this terrible event.
The members of the Council reiterated their strong condemnation of these events. The Council members expressed their concern at reports of ongoing violations of human rights and international humanitarian law in the Great Lakes region and at the widespread culture of impunity. They called on the governments of the region to take all appropriate measures with international assistance to bring the perpetrators to justice and to put and end to impunity.
The Security Council will remain engaged as regards the situation in the Great Lakes region, both in following the completion of enquiries concerning the commission of atrocities and in examining ways to reinforce the mandate and means of the UN missions in the area, specifically of MONUC in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
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