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Thursday, 26 July 2012

Kagame may be charged with aiding war crimes – US: Oh! really


FIRST READ:

Seeing through the lies, hypocrisy and disinformation antics of the American New world system: US to cut military aid to Rwanda over support of Congo rebels: Oh really!

http://watchmanafrica.blogspot.com/2012/07/seeing-through-lies-hypocrisy-and.html

 

Kagame may be charged with aiding war crimes – US

http://www.newvision.co.ug/news/633415-kagame-may-be-charged-with-aiding-war-crimes-us.html


Publish Date: Jul 26, 2012

The head of the US war crimes office has warned Rwanda's leaders, including President Paul Kagame, that they could face prosecution at the international criminal court for arming groups responsible for atrocities in the Democratic Republic of Congo.



Stephen Rapp, who leads the US Office of Global Criminal Justice, told a UK based newspaper the Guardian the Rwandan leadership may be open to charges of "aiding and abetting" crimes against humanity in a neighbouring country – actions similar to those for which the former Liberian president, Charles Taylor, was jailed for 50 years by an international court in May.



Rapp's warning follows a damning United Nations report on recent Rwandan military support for M23, an insurgent group that has driven hundreds of thousands of people from their homes since April as it has seized territory in the eastern DRC.



The group is led by Bosco Ntaganda, known as the Terminator, who was indicted by the international criminal court six years ago for war crimes including the forced recruitment of child soldiers. The UN report accuses Rwanda of shielding Ntaganda from justice.



On Saturday, Washington said it would halt some military aid to Rwanda after the UN report.



The aid freeze and Rapp's public intervention mark a significant shift away from once-solid US support for Kagame, which was rooted in lingering guilt over international inaction during the 1994 genocide of Rwandan Tutsis.



Rapp, who previously served as chief prosecutor at the Rwanda genocide tribunal and later initiated the prosecution of Taylor over his crimes as president of Liberia in supporting rebels in neighbouring Sierra Leone, said Rwandan support for M23 and other armed groups "has to stop" because it "maintains the lawlessness and at the end of the day enables the ongoing commission of atrocities".



"There is a line that one can cross under international law where you can be held responsible for aiding a group in a way that makes possible their commission of atrocities," he said.



"Charles Taylor never set foot in Sierra Leone, and aided and abetted, and was convicted of aiding and abetting, the Revolutionary United Front with assistance that was substantial and, the judges said, without which the RUF could not have committed the atrocities to the extent they did commit them. Because of that evidence, Charles Taylor was convicted and sentenced to 50 years."



Rapp said the evidence by the UN group of experts of Rwandan government support for M23 and other armed groups, including sending weapons and troops into the DRC, exposed Kagame and other senior officials to investigation for war crimes.



"At this stage, I'm not sure if we are there in terms of criminal conduct," he said. "But if this kind of thing continued and groups that were being armed were committing crimes … then I think you would have a situation where individuals who were aiding them from across the border could be held criminally responsible."



The UN report, by a group of experts appointed by the security council, said it had "found substantial evidence attesting to support from Rwandan officials to armed groups operating in the eastern DRC", including shipping weapons and money to M23 in breach of a UN arms embargo and other sanctions.



"Since the earliest stages of its inception, the group documented a systematic pattern of military and political support provided to the M23 rebellion by Rwandan authorities," it said.



The report said the Rwandan government gave "direct assistance in the creation of M23 through the transport of weapons and soldiers through Rwandan territory", and recruited Rwandan youths, demobilised ex-combatants and Congolese refugees as M23 fighters.



It also offers evidence of "direct Rwandan Defence Forces (RDF) interventions into Congolese territory to reinforce M23" and "support to several other armed groups".



"RDF operational units are periodically reinforcing the M23 on the battlefield against the Congolese army," it said.



Many M23 members formerly served in another Rwandan-backed militia, the National Congress for the Defence of the People (CNDP), which was responsible along with other militias for widespread atrocities over several years, including ethnic killings and mass rape. Ntaganda was the CNDP's military chief.



The experts accuse Rwanda of shielding Ntaganda from prosecution by the ICC for war crimes.



"Rwandan officials have insisted on impunity for their armed group and mutineer allies, including ex-CNDP General Bosco Ntaganda," they said.



Earlier this week, Kagame denounced western criticism of Rwanda's role in the DRC and blamed the continuing conflict on foreign powers that "don't listen", as well as the continuing threat from anti-Tutsi extremist forces, led by Hutus responsible for the 1994 genocide.



"This problem has not been caused by Rwanda and it has not been abetted by Rwanda," said Kagame. "Actually the problem of DRC came from outside. It was created by the international community, our partners, because they don't listen … and in the end they don't actually provide a solution. They just keep creating problems for us. We know better our problems, we know better about this region's problems."



Kagame also denied arming M23.


"The international community was saying that Rwanda is helping rebels, but helping them with what, and for what reason? They say we supply them with ammunition, but these people get guns from the Congolese army. The ammunition they have is from their Congolese armouries," he said. "We are not supplying even one bullet, we have not and we will not."



Kagame rejected accusations that Rwanda is shielding Ntaganda from the ICC. He said he told DRC's government that it should deal with the renegade general, but warned that arresting Ntaganda would only create more conflict.



"After that, members of the international community developed an idea that if Rwanda can't support them to arrest someone in another country, then they would put us together with those they want to arrest, and this is really how it turned out to be," he said.



The Rwandan leadership has faced accusations from the UN before, but the latest report has exposed it to unusual public criticism from Washington.

 


Kagame May Face War Crimes Charges at the ICC, Says US Official


Congo News Agency - July 26, 2012


A senior US official has warned Rwandan officials that they may face charges at the International Criminal Court for their support to rebels in eastern Congo led by warlord Bosco Ntaganda, who is wanted by the ICC on war crimes charges.

Stephen Rapp, the US Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issues and head of the Office of Global Criminal Justice, told The Guardian that Rwandan authorities could be charged for “aiding and abetting” war crimes, like the former Liberian president Charles Taylor, who was convicted to 50 years in prison in may for his support to rebels in neighboring Sierra Leone.

“There is a line that one can cross under international law where you can be held responsible for aiding a group in a way that makes possible their commission of atrocities,” Mr. Rapp told The Guardian.

Mr. Rapp, who investigated the war crimes committed by armed groups in Sierra Leone in the late nineties, said comparing the former Liberian president to Rwandan President Paul Kagame that ”Charles Taylor never set foot in Sierra Leone, and aided and abetted, and was convicted of aiding and abetting.”

The warning comes less than a week after the United States announced it was cutting military aid to Rwanda because of the support to the M23 rebels in eastern Congo.

It is a further sign that Rwandan President Paul Kagame might finally be losing the unwavering support he had enjoyed in the past from the United States, despite evidence provided for more than a decade by UN reports, rights groups and the Congolese government that Rwandan authorities have been fueling wars in eastern Congo by providing weapons, men and ammunitions to rebel groups involved in atrocities.

“We have a lot of influence with the Rwandans. We've been very supportive of them. We're prepared to speak frankly to them as we have privately in the past, and now publicly,” Mr. Rapp told The Guardian.
“M23 was reinforced by Rwanda, and that has to stop. And that's the message we're delivering.”


Rwanda gives DR Congo back tonnes of smuggled minerals


BBC News - November 3, 2011

About 82 tonnes of smuggled minerals seized by Rwandan police has been handed back to the Democratic Republic of Congo in a sign of improved relations between the two neighbours.

The minerals include cassiterite, or tin ore, as well as coltan, used in devices such as mobile phones.

The return of the materials follows new international regulations aimed at cleaning up the mineral sector.

DR Congo's mineral wealth has been a major factor in years of conflict.

Armed groups - local and foreign - have seized control of many mines in the east, bordering Rwanda and few Congolese have benefited from their country's vast mineral wealth.

Rwanda has twice invaded DR Congo saying it was fighting rebel groups based there but its army has been accused of looting minerals during the conflict in which an estimated five million people died.

Rwanda's Natural Resources Minister Stanislas Kamanzi handed the minerals - loaded in five lorries - to Congolese authorities at a ceremony in the border town of Gisenye.

BBC East Africa correspondent Will Ross says the handover is a sign of the greatly improved relations between two countries that have often been bitter enemies.

'Conflict-free'
"I think it [reflects] the spirit of cooperation between the two countries," DR Congo mining ministry adviser, Paul Mabolia Yenga, told the BBC's Network Africa programme.

Rwanda's deputy director of natural resources Michael Biryabarema said Kigali wanted to end perceptions that it benefited from illegal mining in DR Congo.

"It's a lie that has gone for a long time," he said.

He said Rwanda and DR Congo would work together to strengthen their mining sectors.

"We are more interested in... the development of our industry, bilateral relations and the establishment of proper trade relations," Mr Biryabarema said.

Rwanda has for years been a major conduit for conflict minerals from DR Congo, correspondents say.

It long denied any involvement but now supports efforts to make the trade more transparent.

Any seized minerals without the sign would be returned, Mr Biryabarema said.

"I think we've set a precedent... but preferably they will not be allowed into the country if they have not been tagged," Mr Biryabarema said.

The landlocked country has mineral deposits within its own borders and wants to label them conflict-free, our correspondent says.

But as Rwanda stands to lose out on vast revenues from the trade in Congo some analysts question just how rigorous the authorities there will be.

Earlier this week, a website was launched to promote transparency in the Congolese mining sector.

The Carter Center said www.congomines.org would give people more information about the mining sector, including contracts and payments.

Hundreds of mining documents and maps will be published on the site, it said.

But Congolese state-owned mining giant Gecamines would not release confidential contracts without the permission of its joint venture partners, CEO Kalej Nkand said, Reuters news agency reports.

"The proposed publication of these contracts has no legal basis. It is doubtful that our partners would consent to it," he is quoted as saying.


Hillary Clinton Warns Africa Of 'New Colonialism'


http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/06/11/hillary-clinton-africa-new-colonialism_n_875318.html

LUSAKA, Zambia -- U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Saturday warned Africa of a creeping "new colonialism" from foreign investors and governments interested only in extracting the continent's natural resources to enrich themselves and not the African people.

Clinton said that African leaders must ensure that foreign projects are sustainable and benefit all their citizens, not only elites. A day earlier, she cautioned that China's massive investments and business interests in Africa need to be closely watched so that the African people are not taken advantage of.

"It is easy, and we saw that during colonial times, it is easy to come in, take out natural resources, pay off leaders and leave," Clinton said. "And when you leave, you don't leave much behind for the people who are there. We don't want to see a new colonialism in Africa."

Clinton said the United States didn't want foreign governments and investors to fail in Africa, but they should also give back to the local communities.

"We want them to do well, but also we want them to do good," she said.

"We don't want them to undermine good governance, we don't want them to basically deal with just the top elites, and frankly too often pay for their concessions or their opportunities to invest."

Clinton said that American development aid and infrastructure projects come with good governance conditions and that the Obama administration is interested in Africa and the African people. Their success, she said, is in the long-term interest of both the African people and the U.S.

She spoke in a pan-African television interview in the Zambian capital. Her interview followed the handover of a U.S. built pediatric hospital in Lusaka to the Zambian government.

Earlier, at the inaugural meeting of the U.S.-Zambia Chamber of Commerce, Clinton laid out the U.S. strategy for helping Africa.

"We want a relationship of partnership not patronage, of sustainability, not quick fixes," she said. "We want to establish a strong foundation to attract new investment, open new businesses ... create more paychecks, and do so within the context of a positive ethic of corporate responsibility."

"We think it's essential that we have an idea going in that doing well is not in any way a contradiction of doing good," she said.

Clinton is the first secretary of state to visit Zambia since Henry Kissinger came in 1976 to lay out the Ford administration's policy for southern Africa as revolts against white minority rule in South Africa and what was then Rhodesia were intensifying.

Clinton, on the first leg of a three-nation tour of Africa, arrived in Zambia from the United Arab Emirates, where she attended an international conference on Libya. After Zambia, she heads to Tanzania and Ethiopia before returning to Washington next week.