[JURIST] The M23 movement in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive] has been responsible for numerous war crimes including summary executions, rapes and forced recruitment, Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] reported [press release] Tuesday. HRW based its findings on interviews with 190 victims, family members, witnesses and others during the time period between May and September, revealing that the rebel group forcibly recruited at least 137 young men and boys while executing those who attempted to flee. It was found that 33 new recruits were executed, mostly in front of others, to deter additional attempts of flight. HRW also found that the Rwandan army deployed its troops to support the rebel group in its military operation and its attempt to recruit new members. Senior Africa researcher at HRW Anneke Van Woudenberg condemned M23’s criminal activities in DRC and called for justice to be brought against the perpetrators as well as against Rwanda for aiding M23.
The unrest in the eastern part of the DRC has been a focus of the international community. In August the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website; JURIST backgrounder] received requests [JURIST report] to investigate Rwandan President Paul Kagame for allegedly backing armed rebels in the DRC. The calls for an ICC investigation followed the release of a UN report in July 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 Rwanda was urged to stop [JURIST report] assisting accused DRC war criminal General Bosco Ntaganda [case materials], who is wanted by the ICC. During the same month, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile] expressed concern [JURIST report] about the safety of the civilians in the region. In May former ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo sought [JURIST report] the immediate arrest of Ntaganda along with Sylvestre Mudacumura [ICC fact sheet, PDF], a foreign militia leader in the DRC.