Human Rights Watch called on UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres Monday for “a credible international inquiry” into the 2017 murder in the Democratic Republic of Congo of two UN experts, an American man and a Swedish woman.
The NGO said in a press release there was an urgent need for a probe into the murders and the role of the Congolese authorities, adding that the 51 death sentences handed down at the end of January in the African country — mainly given to militia fighters — left too many questions unanswered.
“Nearly five years on, there are still more questions than answers about those who bear ultimate responsibility for the murders of the UN investigators,” HRW’s researcher Thomas Fessy said in a statement also directed at the US and Swedish governments.”
“The UN’s past failure, along with the US and Sweden, to investigate the deaths… was a cynical betrayal,” the statement said.
“But this should not deter them from now conducting a credible investigation focusing on the chain of command behind the murders,” it added.
Michael Sharp, a US national and Zaida Catalan of Sweden disappeared on March 12, 2017, while they were in Kasai to investigate mass graves linked to an armed conflict that had broken out after the death of customary chief Kamuina Nsapu, killed by the security forces.
Their bodies were found two weeks later. According to the official version, they were executed by militiamen from the Kamuina Nsapu sect.
But in June 2017, a report submitted to the UN Security Council argued that the double murder was a “premeditated ambush” and did not rule out the involvement of members of state security forces.