ICC urged to investigate Rwanda president for arming DRC rebels

The International Criminal Court on Aug. 17 received requests to investigate Rwandan President Paul Kagame for backing armed rebels in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Rwandan and Congolese advocacy groups opposed to Kagame's rule have alleged that the Rwandan leader is guilty of war crimes for helping to create and arm rebel groups in eastern DRC including M23, which has been conducting a mutiny in North Kivu province under the leadership of a particularly notorious group of human rights violators. The calls for an ICC investigation follow the release of a UN report last month detailing investigations since late 2011 that revealed substantial evidence that the Rwandan government helped create the rebel groups and supplied them with weapons, armor and recruits, including children. In June UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay estimated that the armed conflict between the DRC government and the M23 movement has displaced around 218,000 people from their homes since April, specifically mentioning five M23 leaders and describing them as the "worst perpetrators of human rights violations in the DRC, or in the world for that matter."

The unrest in the eastern part of the DRC has been a focus of the international community recently. Last month US Office of Global Criminal Justice (GCJ) leader Stephen Rapp announced that Rwandan leaders who armed the DRC rebels as alleged in the UN report may have committed war crimes by providing systematic military and political support groups known for committing human rights violations. The UN report was leaked to the media in late June. Foreign Policy magazine revealed information from the report in June but the Rwandan government rejected the allegations. Earlier that month Human Rights Watch (HRW) urged the Rwandan government to stop assisting accused DRC war criminal Gen. Bosco Ntaganda, who is wanted by the ICC. In 2010 a UN report claimed that troops from Rwanda had committed crimes in the DRC that could amount to genocide.

From Jurist, Aug. 17. Used with permission.

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NOTE: The M23 movement broke in April from the FARDC, Congo's official armed forces. They take their name from March 23, 2009, the date of the rebel CNDP's integration into the FARDC under a government-brokered deal which has now apparently broken down. (ReliefWeb, July 24; Al-Jazeera, July 12)



  1. UN report: Rwanda commands Congo insurgents
    Rwanda’s defense minister, Gen. James Kabarebe, is effectively commanding the M23 insurgent army in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, according to a confidential report from the UN Security Council’s Group of Experts that was leaked to Reuters. The report charges that M23 has expanded its territory, increased recruitment of child soldiers and summarily executed recruits and prisoners. The report accuses Rwanda and Uganda of violating a UN arms embargo by supporting the rebels. Both governments have denied the accusations. (Reuters, The Telegraph, BBC News, Oct. 16)