08 May DR Congo Passes Amnesty Law
As the BBC reports here, the DR Congo parliament has passed an amnesty law for “acts of war” committed by militia in the eastern provinces of North Kivu and South Kivu. Although it looks aimed to assist the ongoing peace process within the DRC, the granting of an amnesty for only DR nationals (foreign fighters are not included) and then only for acts committed in these two provinces is sure to provoke some objections from outside the DRC. It also raises the vexing question of the effect of these kinds of domestic amnesties on the peace process and on ongoing war crimes investigations and proceedings — both within the DRC and at the ICC. The law appears not to extend any immunity to individuals who are accused of war crimes. President Kabila will need to sign the legislation before it becomes law. The BBC notes:
[The amnesty] will include “acts of war” committed since 2003 but does not offer amnesty to those accused of war crimes such as rebel leader Laurent Nkunda. Gen Nkunda remains in detention in Rwanda since his arrest in January. DR Congo has applied for his extradition.A Tutsi like Rwanda’s leaders, Gen Nkunda had guarded Rwanda’s western flank against attacks ethnic Rwandan Hutu rebels – the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) – some of whose leaders have been linked to the 1994 Rwandan genocide.
Government spokesman Lambert Mende told the BBC the amnesty would only to apply to Congolese militia and would not cover crimes committed by foreign rebel groups.