HRW protests Rwanda aid to Congo rebels

Human Rights Watch (HRW) reported on July 22 that the rebel group 23 March Movement (M23, see BBC backgrounder) in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is receiving assistance from Rwanda despite continued human rights abuses by the M23, including rape, executions and forced recruitment of young boys. HRW based its report on interviews with former M23 fighters who have abandoned the movement. According to the report, Rwanda is permitting the M23 rebels to recruit from within Rwanda and is giving material support to the rebels, including food, uniforms, ammunition and other supplies. While a panel of UN experts reported in June that Rwanda’s support for the M23 is declining, HRW asserted that the support remains significant and called upon the UN and the US to urge Rwanda to halt support to the M23.

DRC and M23 forces have faced numerous accusations of war crimes and human rights violations. In May a UN report found that DRC troops committed rape and murder as they retreated from an advance by M23 rebels last November. In February HRW reported that during the siege of Goma, M23 forces summarily executed 24 individuals, 21 of whom were civilians, and raped 36 women, including a 10-year-old girl. In November the UN condemned M23 guerrilla attacks on the DRC and called for an immediate end to all support for the group. Last year a leaked UN report revealed that Rwanda had been supporting M23 and other groups guilty of human rights violations.

From Jurist, July 24