UN envoy leaves DR Congo after being declared persona non grata

Congolese police stand guard in Kinshasa on July 2, 2013 (AFP Photo/Junior D. Kannah)

Kinshasa (AFP) - The UN rights envoy in the Democratic Republic of Congo has left the country after Kinshasa declared him persona non grata following a damning report on a police crackdown on youth gangs.

Scott Campbell, who headed the UN Human Rights office in the country left late Friday on a Brussels-bound flight, airport sources said.

Carlos Araujo, the spokesman for MONUSCO, the UN mission in the DRC, said Campbell, an American, had "left for holidays that he had long sought".

Congolese Interior Minister Richard Muyej accused Campbell at a news conference in Kinshasa on Thursday of lacking "professionalism and honesty" and said it was time for UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to recall him.

On Friday, government spokesman Lambert Mende said Campbell could leave within 48 hours.

The move followed the release of a UN report that severely criticised a police crackdown on youth gangs in Kinshasa between November last year and February.

The report said at least nine people had been summarily executed and 32 went missing during the police operation, with bodies dumped in a river or buried in mass graves.

MONUSCO head Martin Kobler meanwhile urged Kinshasa to reconsider its decision.

"I express my full confidence and trust in Scott Campbell and the work undertaken by his whole team," he said.

"The human rights reports... are important catalysts ensuring good governance leading to stability," he said.

"Human rights defenders play an important role in the DRC and they must be able to work unimpeded," he added.