ICC issues arrest warrants for rebel leaders wanted for DR Congo war crimes
The International Criminal Court (ICC) today issued an arrest warrant for Sylvestre Mudacumura, the head of a Rwandan rebel group, as well as a second arrest warrant for Congolese rebel leader Bosco Ntaganda, for alleged war crimes committed in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
Both warrants are in response to requests submitted to the Court, which is based in The Hague, in May by the Office of the Prosecutor.
Mr. Mudacumura, 58, is the supreme commander of the Rwandan rebel group known as the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, also known by its French acronym FDLR. The group is the most recent incarnation of Rwandan rebel groups established by Rwandan Hutus responsible for the 1994 genocide of Tutsis and Hutu moderates in Rwanda and has been involved in crimes in eastern DRC for some time.
Mr. Mudacumura is suspected of committing war crimes, from 20 January 2009 to the end of September 2010, in the context of the conflict in the Kivus in eastern DRC. The Court considered that there are “reasonable grounds to believe that he is responsible for nine counts of war crimes, consisting of attacking civilians, murder, mutilation, cruel treatment, rape, torture, destruction of property, pillaging and outrages against personal dignity.”
The ICC had already issued an arrest warrant six years ago for Mr. Ntaganda, currently a general in the DRC’s national army, for three counts of war crimes allegedly committed against civilians in the Ituri region from 2002 to 2003. They are the enlistment of children under the age of 15, conscription of children under the age of 15, and using children under the age of 15 to participate actively in hostilities.
The new arrest warrant is an expansion of the previous one against Mr. Ntaganda, one of the top commanders in the militia led by Congolese warlord Thomas Lubanga Dyilo, who was convicted in March by the ICC for crimes in DRC.
The Court considered that there are reasonable grounds to believe that Mr. Ntaganda is responsible for three counts of crimes against humanity, consisting of murder, rape and sexual slavery, and persecution.
In accordance with the arrest warrant, he allegedly bears individual criminal responsibility for four counts of war crimes consisting of murder, attacks against the civilian population, rape and sexual slavery, and pillaging.
The ICC is the first permanent international court set up to prosecute individuals for genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and the crime of aggression. 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.