by Dan Taglioli
The International Criminal Court [official website; JURIST backgrounder] on Friday received requests to investigate Rwandan President Paul Kagame [official profile] for backing armed rebels in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive]. 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 [JURIST report] 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 [official profile] estimated that the armed conflict between the DRC government and the M23 movement has displaced around 218,000 people[JURIST report] 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) [official website] leader Stephen Rapp [official profile] announced that Rwandan leaders who armed the DRC rebels as alleged in the UN report may have committed war crimes [JURIST report] 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 Policymagazine revealed information [JURIST report] from the report in June but the Rwandan government rejected the allegations. Earlier that month Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] urged the Rwandan government to stop [JURIST report] assisting accused DRC war criminal General Bosco Ntaganda [ICC case materials], who is wanted by the ICC. In 2010 a UN report claimed [JURIST report] that troops from Rwanda had committed crimes in the DRC that could amount to genocide.
INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT IN THE MATTER OF PAUL KAGAME ET ALCOMPLAINT PURSUANT TO ARTICLE 15OF THE STATUTE OF ROMEWhereas Article 15 (1) of the Statute of Rome states that “The Prosecutor may initiate investigations proprio motu on the basis of information oncrimes within the jurisdiction of the Court.” And,Whereas Article 53 of the Statute requires the Prosecutor to “initiate aninvestigation unless he or she determines there is no reasonable basis to proceed…” andWhereas it is a matter of public record that the Security Council publishedon June 27, 2012 a Letter dated 26 June 2012 from the Chair of the SecurityCouncil Committee established pursuant to the resolution 1533 (2004)concerning the Democratic Republic of the Congo addressed to the Presidentof the Security Council and its associated Addendum (the Addendum) and,Whereas the said Addendum presents findings of the Group of Experts that provide a reasonable basis to conclude that crimes within the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court have been and are being committed by PaulKagame and others under his command and control, andWhereas the Complainants, the United Forces For Democracy in Rwanda(FDU), the Rwanda National Congress (RNC), le Reseau International desFemmes pour la Democratie et la Paix (RIFDP), represent significantelements of the civil society in Rwanda and L’Association Pour laPromotion de la Democratie et du Developpement de la RDC (APRODEC)and Congonova, represent significant elements of the civil society of theDemocratic Republic of Congo (the DRC)And Remembering that the States Parties to the Statute stated in thePreamble to the Statute that they are “Determined to put an end to impunity
for the perpetrators of these crimes and thus to contribute to the preventionof such crimes”;The Complainants hereby draw the attention of the Prosecutor to theAddendum that sets out the facts that the Rwandan authorities led byPresident Paul Kagame, and including his minister of defence, GeneralJames Kaberebe, the Rwandan Defence Forces Chief of Staff, GeneralCharles Kayonga and the Rwandan Defence Permanent Secretary, Brigadier General Jack Nziza have1. Provided direct military assistance to the M23 rebellion inside the DRCincluding the use of children under the age of 18 as M23 combatants asdescribed at paragraph 19 of the Addendum which constitutes a war crimeunder Article 8(b)(xxvi) and 8(e)(vii) of the Statute,2. Forced former enemy combatants of the Democratic Forces For theLiberation of Rwanda (FDLR) to serve with units sent by the RwandaDefence Forces to reinforce M23 which constitutes a war crime under Article 8(2)(a)(v) that forbids compelling a prisoner of war or other protected person to serve in the forces of a hostile power as described in paragraphs 20 and 21 of the addendum,and note President Paul Kagame’s criminal responsibility, and that of theother named officers under his authority, for these crimes under Article 28 of the Statute regarding their superior responsibility.The Complainants further recall the DRC Final Report (the Mapping Report)of June 2010 made to the Secretary-General of the United Nations byMadame Navanethem Pillay, United Nations Commissioner For HumanRights and that, among other crimes therein set out it is stated at paragraphs20-33 that the armed forces of Rwanda and of the DRC committed genocideagainst the Hutu ethnic group in the DRC (Zaire). During the entire periodof time in which these crimes were committed Paul Kagame had commandresponsibility over the Rwandan armed forces.The Complainants further recall the Report made by Robert Gersony to theUNHCR on October 11, 1994 a written summary of which is attached, inwhich Mr. Gersony stated that Rwanda Patriotic Army forces under thecommand of Major General Paul Kagame committed systematic andsustained killings of Hutu civilians in Rwanda between April and July 1994 and recall the report made by ICTR Lead Investigator, Michael Hourigan tothe UN Office of Internal Oversight (OIOS) of August 1, 1997 (HouriganReport), echoing the report he gave to ICTR prosecutor Louise Arbour, thatPaul Kagame was responsible for the shooting down of the presidential plane carrying President Habyarimana of Rwanda and President Ntaryamira,President of Burundi and others. While neither the Mapping Report nor theGersony Report nor the Hourigan Report provide evidence of crimes withinthe jurisdiction of the ICC they do provide clear evidence of a continuingand systematic pattern of criminal conduct on the part of Paul Kagame in thegreat lakes region which goes to the strength of the case against himregarding the crimes for which he is responsible within the jurisdiction of the ICC.The Complainants also note that the Gersony Report and Hourigan Reportwere, among other evidence of crimes against humanity committed by PaulKagame, in the possession of the Prosecutor of the International CriminalTribunal (ICTR) for Rwanda and are public documents made exhibits intrials at the ICTR and yet the various Prosecutors of the ICTR refused to prosecute Paul Kagame for his crimes thereby providing him with completeimmunity from prosecution and a resulting sense of impunity and thisimpunity thereby encouraged him to commit further crimes in the DRCwithout fear of punishment.The Complainants therefore request the Prosecutor of the InternationalCriminal Court to act on the information provided herein and to commencean investigation as requested with a view to laying charges against PaulKagame and any other person or persons complicit in these crimes and toconfirm to the world that no one has impunity for crimes committed withinthe jurisdiction of the ICC.Submitted at the The Hague, this 17th Day of August, 2012Christopher C. Black Barrister Counsel to the Complainants The Hague,The Netherlands