The M23 rebel group in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) announced that it had handed over its positions in Kibumba to the East African Community Regional Force (EACRF) on December 23, based on recommendations made at a summit in Angola in November.
However, displaced communities have not been able to return to the area due to the presence of rebel fighters. Meanwhile, fighting between M23, Congolese troops (FARDC), and an anti-M23 militia continued on December 26 in the settlements of Bishusha and Tongo. M23 also reportedly detained around 50 people, accusing them of collaborating with other armed groups.
FARDC disputed M23’s claim of withdrawal, alleging that it was a tactic to reinforce positions in Tongo, Kishishe, and Bambu with the aim of occupying Masisi. A UN report recently revealed “substantial evidence” of Rwandan involvement in the DRC, including the provision of weapons and support to M23, and the group’s unrestricted passage through Uganda during the capture of Bunagana in June.
These findings prompted condemnations from France, Germany, the US, and Belgium.
The speaker, Kambale Musavuli, believes that the usual condemnations issued by various countries in response to crimes committed in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are insufficient and do not lead to any action being taken.
He specifically mentions Rwanda and Uganda and recalls instances where these countries invaded the DRC in the past and were not held accountable. Musavuli argues that the international community, particularly the US and the UK, have not taken strong enough action against their allies and have a lack of political will to hold them accountable for their actions. He emphasizes the need for more concrete action, such as cutting ties and stopping the arming, training, and equipping of countries that are destabilizing the DRC.
Musavuli also notes the culture of impunity surrounding crimes in the DRC and the continued killing of people in the country for the past 20 years.
In 2010, the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights published a report on human rights violations and international law in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) between 1993 and 2003.
The report was based on an investigation that began after the discovery of three mass graves in North Kivu in 2005. It examined 617 of the most serious violations that took place during that decade, including mass killings and sexual violence committed by various armed groups and foreign forces in the DRC. The report concluded that most of these crimes would be classified as war crimes and crimes against humanity, and specifically mentioned that some crimes committed by the Rwandan army and AFDL between 1996 and 1997 had “inculpatory elements” that could potentially be considered genocide if proven in a competent court.
Despite calls from the Congolese government for the UN General Assembly to establish an international tribunal to investigate these crimes, no action has been taken.