Forthcoming UN DRC report suggests genocide by Rwanda forces

[JURIST] A forthcoming UN report claims that troops from Rwanda and allied rebels committed crimes in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) [JURIST news archives] that could be classified as genocide if proven by the appropriate court, according to media reports. The draft report, first publicized by French newspaper Le Monde [media website, in French] last week, documents the extreme violence in the DRC from 1993-2003, alleging that tens of thousands of Hutus were killed by Rwandan troops [Le Monde report, in French] during the Congo civil war [GlobalSecurity backgrounder]. Following the 1994 Rwandan genocide [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive], in which more than 800,000 primarily Tutsi people were killed in a span of 100 days, Hutu militias and civilians fled to neighboring Congo, then known as Zaire. According to the New York Times, the report documents systematic killings [NYT report] by the Tutsi-dominated Rwandan army with the assistance of the Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo (AFDL) rebel movement, which may legally amount to genocide. While Rwanda and the DRC have continually asserted that Hutu militias were attacked following the 1994 genocide, the report alleges that civilian Congolese Hutus were also the target of violence and killings. Rwandan Justice Minister Tharcisse Karagurama [official website] rejected the report [BBC report], saying that it had no basis.

In April, the Rwandan Supreme Court [official website] ruled that the plea for release by DRC rebel leader Laurent Nkunda [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] can only be heard by a military court [JURIST report]. According to Nkunda's counsel, he is being held illegally without charge. In 2009, a Rwandan court rejected [JURIST report] a similar lawsuit seeking Nkunda's release from custody. Nkunda was apprehended by Rwandan authorities last January near the DRC border after a joint DRC-Rwandan military operation to capture him and root out Rwandan Hutu rebels operating in the DRC. The DRC government called on Rwanda to extradite Nkunda to DRC where he would face charges for atrocities allegedly committed by forces under his command. In 2006, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) [official website] ruled [JURIST report] that it does not have jurisdiction over a case filed by the DRC against Rwanda on charges of aggression and human rights abuses stemming from the DRC civil war. The ICJ asserted that Rwanda has not accepted UN conventions against human rights crimes like torture and degrading behavior, and therefore the ICJ could not rule [ICJ jurisdiction rules] on the charges upon which Congo based its case. Congo filed the suit [ICJ press release] against Rwanda in 2002, alleging armed aggression, mass slaughter, rape, arbitrary detentions, systematic looting and assassinations, while asking Rwanda to withdraw its troops. Public hearings [ICJ docket; JURIST report] began in the case in 2005.

 

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