U.N. pulls human rights team from former Zaire
October 1, 1997
Web posted at: 3:27 p.m. EDT (1927 GMT)
UNITED NATIONS (CNN) -- The United Nations is withdrawing a
human rights team from the Democratic Republic of Congo until President Laurent Kabila lets it probe alleged massacres, a
U.N. spokesman said Wednesday.
Fred Eckhard said the order, effective immediately, was given
by U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, because investigators
have been blocked from doing their work.
"The team in Kinshasa has been unable to carry out its
mandate. It's time to pull them back for consultations,"
Eckhard said. "They'll get out at the earliest possible
He said the team would return to Kinshasa only if the
government's position is clarified on whether the team will
be allowed to do its work.
The order was issued one day after the U.N. High Commissioner
for Human Rights, Mary Robinson, received reports that Kabila
might order the team to leave.
The U.N. team was sent to Kinshasa weeks ago to look into
allegations that Kabila's forces massacred thousands of Rwandan Hutu refugees in the eastern part of the country, formerly Zaire, before seizing power in May.
Robinson's statement was based on a report from a regional
African news service, which Kabila denied.
On Wednesday, Congolese Foreign Minister Bizima Karaha told
the U.N. General Assembly that his government would do
"anything in our power" to help the team do its work.
But he said the government would resist any effort to
politicize the investigation. Kabila's African allies claim
the probe is an attempt by Western nations to destabilize the
new government, which ousted the late dictator Mobutu Sese
The United States and European nations have threatened to
withhold economic aid, if Kabila does not cooperate with the