The United States is urging the United Nations to investigate the disappearance and murder of two U.N. sanction monitors in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DNC).
The US is among many others casting doubt on the credibility of the quick and shoddy investigation that was done by Congolese officials. In March, American Michael Sharp and Swede Zaida Catalan and their interpreter Betu Tshintela disappeared in the Congo’s Kasai region, where hundreds have died since last July in an insurrection against the government.
Two weeks later their bodies were found in a shallow grave not far away. The fate of their driver and two other motorcycle drivers also abducted remains unknown.
The U.N. workers traveled to the village of Bunkonde, south of the provincial capital, Kananga in Kasai Central to investigate human rights abuses. The next day, they were kidnapped by what the DNC referred to as “unidentified negative forces.”
Sweden has opened a police investigation and U.N. diplomats said U.S. authorities had also been looking into the case.
Congo’s foreign minister, Leonard She Okitundu, last month opposed the creation of an international inquiry.
Congolese military prosecutors announced last month that two suspected militiamen would soon face trial for the killings, but rights groups say they suspect Congolese forces could have been involved in the deaths.
A U.N. spokesman last month cast doubt on the credibility of the Congolese investigation, saying the world body was “taken aback at the rapidity at which it was done.”
Haley said the United States would also support the Geneva-based Human Rights Council establishing a Commission of Inquiry into the ongoing human rights violation in the Kasai region, where Sharp and Catalan went missing.
The remote, heavily forested region in central Congo has been riven by clashes between security forces and a local tribal militia called the Kamuina Nsapu since July.
At least 400 people have been killed and 200,000 displaced since fighting broke out when police killed the militia’s leader last August, the U.N. has said. The top U.N. rights official said in March that three mass graves had been discovered.
Sharpe’s father in a separate interview said that he hopes the work his son was doing would continue and that he hoped to have the Congolese government release his body so that he can be buried at home. Sharpe’s body was intact, Catalan was beheaded.
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