UN Congo report edited to 'tone down' attacks

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The Independent Online

The United Nations has toned down a report detailing hundreds of gruesome attacks against civilians in Congo over a 10-year period but has left intact the suggestion that Rwanda's army may have committed genocide there in the 1990s.

Rwanda and its northern neighbour Uganda had protested about a leaked draft of the report last month, and threatened to pull their soldiers from UN peacekeeping missions unless changes were made to the published version.

The final report shows that the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights rewrote sensitive sections of the 545-page document to couch them in less inflammatory language.

For instance, an earlier reference to "damning elements" that could be used by a court to conclude that genocide took place has been changed to "inculpatory elements".

Another section elaborates at length – compared with the earlier draft – on a number of "countervailing factors" that could be used to argue that such a crime didn't take place. A draft section that dismissed mitigating arguments was dropped entirely.

Despite the changes, Louise Mushikiwabo, the Rwandan Foreign Affairs Minister, said on Thursday that the document was "flawed and dangerous from start to finish". Ms Mushikiwabo claimed the report had been manipulated by "organisations and individuals" seeking to rewrite Rwanda's history.