Rwandese and Congolese to the ICC: Indict Kagame

KPFA Evening News, 08.11.2012

International criminal lawyer Christopher Black on the Rwandese and Congolese coalition that will, next Friday, gather in the Hague to petition Fatou Bensouda, the new Chief Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court, to investigate and indict Rwandan President Paul Kagame.

 

Transcript: 

International criminal attorney Christopher Black

KPFA Evening News Anchor: Next Friday, August 17th, a coalition of Rwandan and Congolese social justice groups will gather in the Hague to demonstrate and petition theInternational Criminal Court to investigate and indict Rwandan President Paul Kagame, for violations of the arms embargo and sanctions within the Democratic Republic of the Congo. KPFA's Ann Garrison spoke to Canadian native and international criminal lawyer Christopher Black, who will fly to the Hague next week to act as their legal counsel.

 

KPFA:  Hi, Christopher. 

 

Christopher Black: Yes, that works.

 

KPFA: OK, tell us about this case.

 

Christopher Black: The FDU, the United Forces for Democracy in Rwanda plus the Rwandan National Congress, and Women for Peace and Democracy in Rwanda have planned an Gambian lawyer Fatou Bensouda swore in as the new Chief Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court on June 15th, 2012, vowing to faithfully, impartially, and conscientiously exercise her power to fight the world's worst war criminals. Photo, courtesy of the ICC action on the 17th of August, which is next Friday, in the Hague, to protest and get a petition signed to present to the prosecutor to try and influence her to charge Paul Kagame for violating various arms embargoes and helping the M23 so-called rebellion in Congo in violation of Security Council sanctions. And they've taken that action because it gives the ICC temporal and territorial jurisdiction over Kagame and his forces. The prosecutor so far has only charged Congolese who seemed to stand in the way of Western interests in the Congo, and the FDU and the others are fed up with that, like everybody else is, and want the ICC to stop their policy of selective prosecution and charge people equally. So, since Museveni and Kagame and his western backers have been the ones who've instigated all these wars and so-called rebellions in the eastern Congo, they should be charged. And that's the object of the exercise. So they asked me last weekend just to come as legal advisor or counsel on that particular action.

And Congolese groups have joined in. There's a Congo Nova, and Association for the Defense of Democracy in Congo. So it's going to be a combined Congolese-Rwandan action.

 

KPFA: Is there going to be a formal complaint? Is there a formal complaint to be submitted yet? 

 

Christopher Black: Well, they're going to present a document. That document will include reference to the latest report by the UN, in its Annex, which details all these violations and General Paul Kagame on his satellite phone in the field during the Rwandan Civil War of 1994. crimes, and the UN Mapping Report from 2010.  It also includes the Gersony Report.

KPFA/Ann Garrison: But, doesn't the Gersony Report describe Kagame's army's slaughter of Rwandan Hutus, in Rwanda, rather than Congo, all the way back in 1994?

 

Christopher Black: I asked them to do that because all those things go together. It doesn't give the ICC time jurisdiction for those crimes, but it shows intent and motivation and the nature of the Kagame government, so it's all circumstantial evidence which supports that they are committing crimes now 'cause they've done it in the past. So they couldn't charge Kagame under the Rome Statute for those crimes committed from '94 up to 2003, but it shows the nature of the regime. 

 

KPFA/Ann Garrison: Because the Rome Statute was. . .?

 

Christopher Black:Yeah, the Rome Statute only came into effect in 2002, but then it had a year delay ​until you couldn't charge anybody for one more year after that. So 2003 is the first time for which they would have temporal jurisdiction over crimes committed in the Congo. And, since Rwanda is not a signatory to the Rome Statute, but Congo is, they could only charge Kagame and his officers with crimes committed inside the Congo, which would give them jurisdiction over him and his officers.  Because the statute says that if any country or group commits crimes within a territory which is signatory to the statute, then even if they're not signatory themselves, they would be under the jurisdiction of the ICC.

International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands

 

KPFA/Ann Garrison: Do groups like this have the right to file a complaint with the ICC?

 

Christopher Black: Well, they want to file a complaint based on all this information, which no doubt the prosecutor already has in her hands. So it's saying, "This is the information we know you have; we have it; we're presenting it to you; we want you to start an investigation. And, what's your position?" 

 

KPFA's Cameron Jones: And that was KPFA's Ann Garrison speaking to international criminal attorney Christopher Black about a Rwandan and Congolese coalition that will travel to the Hague next Friday to call on the International Criminal Court to indict Rwandan President Paul Kagame.

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