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DR Congo: Congolese Groups Demand the Removal of Abusive Army Commander

50 Congolese NGOs and Human Rights Watch Lodge Formal Complaint Against Colonel Innocent Zimurinda

(Goma) - Fifty Congolese human rights and civil society organizations, along with Human Rights Watch, lodged a formal complaint today against Colonel Innocent Zimurinda, a senior army officer based in North Kivu province, eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

The four-page formal complaint describes a litany of serious abuses - including massacres of civilians, summary executions, rape, and the recruitment of children - committed by troops under Zimurinda's command from 2007 to the present. The groups requested the immediate suspension of Zimurinda and his removal from North Kivu pending the outcome of judicial investigations.

The complaint was addressed to General Amuli Bahigwa, the officer in command of Congolese army operations in eastern Congo. The Congolese groups said that abuses were continuing under Zimurinda's command, including with his direct involvement.

"We have taken this unusual step of jointly lodging a formal complaint against Colonel Zimurinda because we can no longer tolerate the abuses he continues to commit against civilians," said Joseph Dunia of Promotion de la Démocratie et Protection des Droits Humains (PDH). "We fear these attacks on civilians will continue unless there is urgent action by the authorities to suspend and investigate him."

In October 2009, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial executions named Zimurinda as the officer responsible for the Congolese army's massacre of Rwandan Hutu refugees at Shalio Hill and the surrounding area in North Kivu in April 2009.

In 2009, Zimurinda participated in UN-backed Congolese military operations in eastern Congo, known as Kimia II. Without action to remove him, he is likely to play a role in new UN-backed Congolese military operations, known as Amani Leo, announced in January 2010.

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