UN tones down Congo `genocide` report

UN report accuses Rwandan troops of committing genocide in DR Congo in 1990s.

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

Rwanda and its northern neighbour Uganda had protested a leaked draft of the report last month, threatening 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, Rwandan Foreign Affairs Minister Louise Mushikiwabo said on Thursday that the document was "flawed and dangerous from start to finish”.

Mushikiwabo claimed the report had been manipulated by "organisations and individuals" seeking to rewrite Rwanda`s history.

Rwandan President Paul Kagame, a US ally, has long claimed the moral high ground for ending the 1994 genocide in his country, during which more than half a million people, mostly Tutsis but also some moderate Hutus, were killed. But the UN report casts doubt on Rwanda`s claim that it was only pursuing those responsible for the Rwandan genocide when it sent troops across the border into eastern Congo in 1996.

Mushikiwabo said the USD 3 million report, which details more than 600 incidents between 1993 and 2003 in which tens of thousands of people -- mostly women and children – were killed, ignored the historical situation and relied overly on questionable sources.