Thursday, May 17, 2012
Luis Moreno-Ocampo, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), wants to seek new charges against Congolese rebel leader Bosco Ntaganda, one of the top commanders in the militia led by Congolese warlord Thomas Lubanda Dyilo (who was convicted in March by the ICC).
The Prosecutor also wants an arrest warrant for the head of a Rwandan rebel group, both of whom are allegedly responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
In 2006, the ICC issued an arrest warrant for Mr. Ntaganda, who is currently a general in the DRC’s national army, for crimes committed against civilians in the Ituri region of DRC from 2002 to 2003.
Mr. Moreno-Ocampo said that evidence collected during the Lubanga trial has led the Office of the Prosecutor to request an expansion of the arrest warrant against Mr. Ntaganda for murder, persecution based on ethnic grounds, rape, sexual slavery, attacking civilians, and pillaging.
The second arrest warrant request is against Sylvestre Mudacumura, the supreme commander of the Rwandan rebel group known as the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, or by its French acronym FDLR.
The most recent incarnation of Rwandan rebel groups established by Rwandan Hutus responsible for the 1994 genocide of Tutsis and Hutu moderates in Rwanda, the FDLR has been involved in crimes in eastern DRC for some time.
“The followers of Ntaganda and Mudacumura have to understand that it is time for them to demobilize and stop their crimes, even help in arresting the leaders,” said the ICC Prosecutor, whose term of office comes to an end next month. He added that it is important that any new plan to attack these groups take into consideration the fact that past military operations against them have produced civilian casualties.
The ICC, which is based in The Hague, is the first permanent international court set up to prosecute individuals for genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and the crime of aggression. It can try cases involving individuals charged with war crimes committed since July 2002. The Security Council, the ICC Prosecutor or a State Party to the court can initiate any proceedings, and the ICC only acts when countries themselves are unwilling or unable to investigate or prosecute. In addition to the situation in DRC, the Court has ongoing investigations in the Central African Republic, the Darfur region of western Sudan, Uganda, Kenya, Libya and Côte d’Ivoire.
(mew) (adapted from a UN Press Release)