The International Criminal Court [official website; JURIST backgrounder] on Friday received requests to investigate Rwandan President Paul Kagame [official profile] for backing armed rebels in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive]. Rwandan and Congolese advocacy groups opposed to Kagame's rule have alleged that the Rwandan leader is guilty of war crimes for helping to create and arm rebel groups in eastern DRC including M23, which has been conducting a mutiny in North Kivu Province under the leadership of a particularly notorious group of human rights violators. The calls for an ICC investigation follow the release of a UN report last month detailing investigations since late 2011 that revealed substantial evidence [JURIST report] that the Rwandan government helped create the rebel groups and supplied them with weapons, armor and recruits, including children. In June UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile] estimated that the armed conflict between the DRC government and the M23 movement has displaced around 218,000 people [JURIST report] from their homes since April, specifically mentioning five M23 leaders and describing them as the "worst perpetrators of human rights violations in the DRC, or in the world for that matter."
The unrest in the eastern part of the DRC has been a focus of the international community recently. Last month US Office of Global Criminal Justice (GCJ) [official website] leader Stephen Rapp [official profile] announced that Rwandan leaders who armed the DRC rebels as alleged in the UN report may have committed war crimes [JURIST report] by providing systematic military and political support groups known for committing human rights violations. The UN report was leaked to the media in late June. Foreign Policy magazine revealed information [JURIST report] from the report in June but the Rwandan government rejected the allegations. Earlier that month Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] urged the Rwandan government to stop [JURIST report] assisting accused DRC war criminal General Bosco Ntaganda [ICC case materials], who is wanted by the ICC. In 2010 a UN report claimed [JURIST report] that troops from Rwanda had committed crimes in the DRC that could amount to genocide.