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Congo disappearances haunt U.N. experts

BRAZZAVILLE, Republic of the Congo, Oct. 4 (UPI) -- A legacy of violence in the Republic of Congo has left civilians with unhealed wounds, a panel of U.N. experts said.

Internal conflict in the 1990s led to thousands of Congolese civilians fleeing to neighboring countries or seeking refuge within the national borders. Near the end of that decade, many returning refugees were victims of enforced disappearances.

Olivier de Frouville and Osman el-Hajje, two members of a U.N. working group on enforced and involuntary disappearances, said after a nine-day tour of the country that many societal wounds were unhealed.

"In particular, families still want to know the truth about what happened to their relatives, victims of enforced disappearances," they said in a statement. "The right to know the truth about the fate of a victim of enforced disappearance is an absolute right."

A court in 2005 acquitted senior country officials and state security defendants of a mass disappearance at the river port of Brazzaville, the nation's capital.

While some of the families of the disappeared were awarded compensation, the experts said the case highlighted lingering issues in the Republic of the Congo.

"We regret that the judicial process could not lead to the identification and punishment of those responsible for enforced disappearances" the experts said.

UPI - United Press International, Inc.

Since 1907, United Press International (UPI) has been a leading provider of critical information to media outlets, businesses, governments and researchers worldwide.

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