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Kinshasa submits another claim against Rwanda, M23 rebels to ICC

Wednesday May 24 2023
congolese army truck

Congolese army vehicle patrolling as people go about their business in Eastern DRC following clashes with M23 rebels in the region on May 25, 2022. PHOTO | AUBIN MUKONI | AFP

By REUTERS

Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) on Tuesday made another formal referral to the International Criminal Court (ICC) to ensure the court will focus on what it calls the systematic pillaging of its natural resources in eastern Congo by the Rwanda Defence Forces (RDF) and the M23 rebel group.

The ICC already has an ongoing investigation into Eastern DR Congo since 2004 and it is not clear if the new referral would shift the court's focus.

"The government of the DRC remains deeply concerned about the suffering of the populations in the part of its territory affected by the acts referred to in this case," the country’s justice ministry said in a statement.

“The referral's goal would be to investigate and prosecute any person involved in human rights violations between 2022 and 2023,” it added.

Read: M23’s ceasefire fails to hold in east DRC

The Tutsi-led M23 rebel group launched a fresh offensive in eastern Congo in March last year, seizing towns and villages in the area that borders with Uganda. The fighting forced more than 1 million people to flee.

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Congo has accused neighbouring Rwanda of backing the M23. The government of the latter has denied any involvement.

The ICC Office of the Prosecutor has given no details other than that the focus is on alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity committed since July 2002 in the Ituri region as well as the North and South Kivu provinces.

To date, the ICC has convicted three different Congolese militia leaders; one for war crimes and the others for war crimes as well as crimes against humanity committed in the Eastern DRC.

ICC Prosecutor Karim Khan is expected to visit Kinshasa and Congo's provinces affected by rebel groups from May 28 to May 31.

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