Justice Minister Rose Mutombo submits official request to The Hague-based court
The Democratic Republic of Congo’s Justice Ministry announced Tuesday that it has asked the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague to investigate alleged crimes committed by the M23 rebel group in eastern North Kivu province.
The government wants the ICC to investigate, prosecute and punish M23 rebels along with other perpetrators of “unlawful acts of serious violation of international humanitarian law and human rights laws committed between 2022-2023 on Congolese soil,” Congolese national broadcaster RTNC reported, citing Justice Minister Rose Mutombo, who submitted the official request to the Office of the Prosecutor of the ICC.
By referring the matter to the ICC, the Congolese authorities want the court to “initiate an investigation for the purpose of prosecuting and repressing elements of the M23 rebel group who massacre civilian populations in the east of the country and systematically and on a large scale loot its natural resources,” it said.
More than 500,000 people have fled their homes since the resurgence of the M23 in November 2021, according to the UN.
The fighting heightened tensions between Rwanda and the neighboring DR Congo government.
Kinshasa accuses Kigali of backing the rebel group, a charge Rwanda consistently denies.
ICC Prosecutor General Karim Khan is expected in DR Congo from May 28-31, during which he will visit the eastern part of the country plagued by conflicts.
The ICC convicted Congolese warlord Bosco Ntaganda of war crimes and crimes against humanity and sentenced him to 30 years in prison in 2019 for murder, rape and other atrocities committed in Ituri in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo in 2002-2003, when he was military leader of the Union of Congolese Patriots (UPC) militia.
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