FARDC (Congolese army) colonel Innocent Zimurinda, a senior army officer based in North Kivu, was named responsible by the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial executions for the massacre of Rwandan Hutu refugees in North Kivu in April, 2009. Now, fifty Congolese human rights and civil society organizations, along with Human Rights Watch, have lodged a formal complaint against Colonel Zimurin to General Amuli Bahigwa, the officer in command of Congolese army operations in eastern Congo. The complaint draws attention to the alleged abuses in North Kivu from 2007 to the present for which he is believed to be responsible, either directly or under his command.
The complaint urgently requests 1) the launch of credible and impartial investigations into the alleged abuses, and taking of all appropriate action; 2) immediate suspension of Colonel Zimurinda from operational command pending the outcome of these investigations.
The alleged abuses include:
- summary killings in Buramba, North Kivu (March 2007)
- killing of civilians and mass execution of prisoners, Rubare, Katwiguru and Kiseguru (Feb-Aug 2007)
- Kiwanja massacre, Rutshuru, North Kivu (Nov 2008)
- Shalio massacre, Walikale, North Kivu (Apr 2009)
- Maintenance and recruitment of child soldiers within troops under Zimurinda’s command (2009)
- Rape and summary executions, Masisi (2009-2010)
- Abusive forced labour (2009-2010)
- Forced evictions and arbitrary arrests (2009)
- Illegal taxation (2009-2010)
On July 5, 2009, the Congolese government announced that there would be “zero tolerance” for human rights abuses committed by FARDC military personnel and said that those responsible would be held to account. This policy gave us hope that FARDC soldiers would end their abuses against civilians. But for this policy to have real meaning it must be applied to commanding officers such as Colonel Zimurinda who continue to be responsible for serious abuses.
—Letter to General Amuli Bahigwa, 1 March 2010