DRC: ICC To Open New War Crimes Probe Against DRC’s M23 Rebel Group

DRC: ICC To Open New War Crimes Probe Against DRC’s M23 Rebel Group

By Spy Uganda Correspondent

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has said it will examine allegations of war crimes by armed groups in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s volatile east after Kinshasa made a new formal referral to the tribunal.

The DRC referred the situation to the Hague-based ICC in 2004, but has now made a second referral asking that it launch an investigation into the latest alleged crimes, ICC prosecutor Karim Khan said on Thursday.

“I intend to conduct a preliminary examination promptly,” Khan said in a statement.

The British prosecutor added that this would initially assess “whether the scope of the two situations referred by the DRC government are sufficiently linked to constitute a single situation”.

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Kinshasa has accused the M23 rebel group of attacks in the DRC’s mineral-rich North Kivu province and says Rwanda is backing the Tutsi-led militia. Kigali denies any involvement in the violence.

Over One Milion People Displaced

The ICC, founded in 2002 to prosecute war crimes suspects, carries out preliminary examinations into alleged atrocities before deciding whether or not to proceed to a full investigation.

It has already convicted three former militia leaders over conflicts in the DRC including rebel leader Bosco “Terminator” Ntaganda, jailed for 30 years for mass murder, rape and abduction.

The Tutsi-led M23 group has captured swathes of territory in North Kivu province since taking up arms in late 2021 after years of dormancy, with over one million people displaced by the fighting.

The DRC accuses Rwanda of backing the M23. Despite denials from Kigali, independent United Nations experts and several western nations, including the United States, agree with Kinshasa.

Armed groups have plagued much of eastern DRC for three decades, a legacy of regional wars that flared in the 1990s and 2000s.

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