ICC urged to investigate Rwanda president for arming DRC rebels
byÂ Dan TaglioliÂ
TheÂ International Criminal CourtÂ [official website; JURISTÂ backgrounder] on Friday received requests to investigate RwandanÂ President Paul KagameÂ [official profile] for backing armed rebels in theÂ Democratic Republic of the CongoÂ (DRC) [BBC backgrounder; JURISTÂ 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 thatÂ revealed substantial evidenceÂ [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 RightsÂ Navi PillayÂ [official profile] estimated that the armed conflict between the DRC government and the M23 movement hasÂ 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 USÂ Office of Global Criminal JusticeÂ (GCJ) [official website] leaderÂ Stephen RappÂ [official profile] announced that Rwandan leaders who armed the DRC rebels as alleged in the UN reportÂ may have committed war crimesÂ [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.Â Foreign PolicymagazineÂ revealed informationÂ [JURIST report] from the report in June but the Rwandan government rejected the allegations. Earlier that monthÂ Human Rights WatchÂ (HRW) [advocacy website]Â urged the Rwandan government to stopÂ [JURIST report] assisting accused DRC war criminalÂ General Bosco NtagandaÂ [ICC case materials], who is wanted by the ICC. In 2010 a UN reportÂ claimedÂ [JURIST report] that troops from Rwanda had committed crimes in the DRC that could amount to genocide.
INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURTÂ IN THE MATTER OF PAUL KAGAME ETÂ ALCOMPLAINT PURSUANT TO ARTICLE 15OF THE STATUTE OF ROMEWhereas Article 15 (1) ofÂ the Statute of Rome states that â€œTheÂ ProsecutorÂ may initiate investigations proprio motu on the basis of information oncrimes within the jurisdiction of the Court.â€ And,Whereas Article 53 of the Statute requires the Prosecutor to â€œinitiate aninvestigation unless he or she determines there is noÂ reasonable basis toÂ proceedâ€¦â€ andWhereas it is aÂ matter of public record that the Security Council publishedon June 27, 2012 a LetterÂ dated 26 June 2012 from the ChairÂ of the SecurityCouncil Committee established pursuant to theÂ 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 theÂ Group of Experts thatÂ provide a reasonable basis to conclude that crimes within the jurisdiction ofÂ 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 inÂ Rwanda(FDU), the Rwanda National Congress (RNC), le Reseau International desFemmes pour la Democratie et laÂ Paix (RIFDP), represent significantelements of the civil society in Rwanda and Lâ€™Association Pour laPromotion de la Democratie et du Developpement de la RDCÂ (APRODEC)and Congonova, represent significant elements of the civil society of theDemocratic Republic of Congo (the DRC)And Remembering that the States Parties to theÂ Statute stated in thePreamble to the Statute that they are â€œDetermined toÂ put an end to impunity
for the perpetrators of theseÂ crimes and thus to contribute to the preventionof such crimesâ€;The Complainants hereby draw the attention of the Prosecutor toÂ theAddendum that sets out the facts that the Rwandan authorities led byPresident Paul Kagame, and including his minister of defence,Â GeneralJames Kaberebe, the Rwandan Defence Forces Chief ofÂ Staff, GeneralCharles Kayonga and the Rwandan Defence Permanent Secretary, BrigadierÂ General Jack Nziza have1. Provided direct military assistance to the M23 rebellion inside the DRCincluding the use of children under the age ofÂ 18 as M23 combatants asdescribed at paragraph 19 of the Addendum which constitutes a warÂ crimeunder Article 8(b)(xxvi) and 8(e)(vii) of theÂ Statute,2. Forced former enemy combatants of the Democratic Forces For theLiberation of Rwanda (FDLR) to serve withÂ units sent by the RwandaDefence Forces to reinforce M23 which constitutes a warÂ crime underÂ Article 8(2)(a)(v) that forbids compelling a prisoner ofÂ war or otherÂ Â protected person to serve in the forces of a hostile power as described inÂ paragraphs 20 and 21 of the addendum,and note President Paul Kagameâ€™s criminal responsibility, and that of theother named officers under his authority, forÂ these crimes under Article 28 ofÂ the Statute regarding theirÂ superior responsibility.The Complainants further recall the DRC Final Report (theÂ Mapping Report)of June 2010 made to theÂ Secretary-General of the United Nations byMadame Navanethem Pillay, United Nations Commissioner For HumanRights and that, among other crimes therein setÂ out it is stated at paragraphs20-33 that the armed forces ofÂ Rwanda and of the DRC committed genocideagainst the Hutu ethnic group in the DRC (Zaire).Â During the entire periodof time in which these crimesÂ were committed Paul Kagame had commandresponsibility over the Rwandan armed forces.The Complainants further recall the Report made byÂ Robert Gersony to theUNHCR on October 11, 1994 a written summary ofÂ which is attached, inwhich Mr. Gersony stated that Rwanda Patriotic Army forcesÂ under thecommand of Major General Paul Kagame committed systematic andsustained killings of Hutu civilians in Rwanda between April and July 1994Â and recall the report made by ICTR Lead Investigator, Michael Hourigan tothe UN Office of Internal Oversight (OIOS)Â of August 1, 1997 (HouriganReport), echoing the report he gave to ICTRÂ prosecutor Louise Arbour, thatPaul Kagame was responsible for the shooting down ofÂ the presidentialÂ plane carrying President Habyarimana of Rwanda and President Ntaryamira,President of Burundi and others. While neither theÂ Mapping Report nor theGersony Report nor the Hourigan Report provide evidence of crimes withinthe jurisdiction of the ICC they do provide clearÂ evidence of a continuingand systematic pattern of criminal conduct on the part ofÂ Paul Kagame in thegreat lakes region which goes to the strength ofÂ the case against himregarding the crimes for which heÂ is responsible within the jurisdiction ofÂ 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 ProsecutorÂ of the International CriminalTribunal (ICTR) for Rwanda and areÂ public documents made exhibits intrials at the ICTR and yet the various Prosecutors of the ICTR refused toÂ prosecute Paul Kagame for his crimes thereby providing him with completeimmunity from prosecution and a resulting sense ofÂ impunity and thisimpunity thereby encouraged him to commit further crimes in theÂ DRCwithout fear ofÂ punishment.The Complainants therefore request the Prosecutor of theÂ InternationalCriminal Court to act on the information provided herein and toÂ commencean investigation as requested with a view to laying charges against PaulKagame and any other person or personsÂ complicit in these crimes and toconfirm to the world that no oneÂ has impunity for crimes committed withinthe jurisdiction of the ICC.Submitted at the The Hague, this 17thÂ Day of August, 2012Christopher C. BlackÂ BarristerÂ Counsel to the Complainants The Hague,The Netherlands