News in Brief 14 February 2016 (AM) – Geneva

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Peacekeepers serving with the UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) on patrol. UN Photo/Sylvain Liechti

DRC soldiers "opened fire on militia armed with spears"

At least 100 people are believed to have been killed in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) in clashes between government troops and tribal militia.

The UN Human Rights Office, OHCHR, says that the militia fighters were shot in Kasai Central Province by government FARDC soldiers, even though they were armed with mainly machetes and spears.

Spokesperson Liz Throssell from the UN Human Rights Office said that the violence reportedly happened in and around the town of Tshimbulu in recent days.

"According to information from several sources, FARDC soldiers opened fire indiscriminately with machine guns when they saw the militia fighters, who were armed mainly with machetes and spears. Some 39 women are reported to have been caught in the fire and are among the dead."

The UN Human Rights Office has condemned the apparently excessive use of force by government soldiers against the tribal militia, while also speaking out against the militia's practice of recruiting child soldiers.

OHCHR has also warned that the insecurity which led to violence erupting last August remains undiminished.

North Korea rejects condemnation of ballistic missile launch

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) has rejected international criticism of its recent ballistic missile launches, before accusing "hostile" powers of boosting their nuclear arsenals.

Speaking at the UN Conference on Disarmament in Geneva, DPRK representative Han Tae Song said that his country felt threatened and was within its rights to defend itself.

His comments follow strong condemnation of the missile tests by the UN Security Council on Monday.

"The successful test launch of medium to long-range missile on February 10 is a part of self-defence measures. In this respect my delegation strongly rejects the latest statement of the UN Security Council and all UN Resolutions against my country."

At the disarmament talks in Geneva, China was among those Member States to oppose the DPRK missile launch, saying that provocative moves escalated regional tensions.

Misinformation campaign against Guatemalan rights body "is intensifying"

A long-running smear campaign designed to discredit the work of a Guatemalan anti-corruption commission has been criticized by the UN Human Rights Office, OHCHR.

The level of misinformation against the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala has intensified in the last week, particularly on social media, OHCHR says.

Its head, Ivan Velasquez, is also a target.

The UN Human Rights Office has expressed deep concern at the attacks on what it calls a "crucial ally".

Spokesperson Liz Throssell describes the Commission's achievements:

"With the support of the Commission, known by its Spanish initials as CICIG, Guatemala has made remarkable progress in the fight against impunity and corruption in recent years. Working with the Office of the Attorney General, CICIG has investigated and prosecuted criminal organizations that have infiltrated State institutions within all three branches of government.

Ms Throssell added that corruption threatened to undermine efforts made to strengthen democracy in Guatemala since the end of internal armed conflict in 1996.

Daniel Johnson, United Nations, Geneva

Duration: 3’19″


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