US official: Rwanda government conduct could amount to war crimes

[JURIST] Rwandan leaders who aided armed forces in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive] and supplied them with weapons, armor and recruits, including children may have committed war crimes, the leader of the US Office of Global Criminal Justice (GCJ) [official website] told reporters on Wednesday. The comments by GCJ leader Stephen Rapp [official profile] follow a UN report released earlier this month [JURIST report] concluding that the Rwandan government has provided aid to the armed groups. The report was based on investigations since late 2011 that revealed substantial evidence of the alleged assistance by the Rwandan government including systematic military and political support groups known for committing human rights violations. Rapp said that although current facts may not support a war crimes charge, any continued support of such groups could potentially justify a future indictment [Guardian report]. A representative of the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website; JURIST backgrounder] said Thursday that the court was not investigating the Rwandan authorities [AP report] "in any way."

The UN report was leaked to the media in late June. Foreign Policy magazine revealed information [JURIST report] from the report last month, but the Rwandan government rejected the allegations. Earlier in June, Human Rights Watch (HRW) 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. The unrest in the eastern part of the DRC has been a focus of the international community recently. Last week, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay expressed concern [JURIST report] about the safety of the civilians in the region. Last month, former ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo sought the immediate arrest [JURIST report] of Ntaganda along with Sylvestre Mudacumura [ICC fact sheet, PDF], a foreign militia leader in the DRC.

 

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