The International Criminal Court (ICC) on Thursday said it will examine war crimes allegations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) after a formal request for the same was made to the tribunal, reported The Barron’s.
The announcement comes several weeks after the DRC government made a new formal referral to the ICC over violence involving M23 rebels that have displaced around a million people in North Kivu province.
Prosecutor Karim Khan said Kinshasa has appealed to prosecutors to investigate particular armed forces and groups allegedly responsible for war crimes in North Kivu province from January 1, 2022, to date.
“I intend to conduct a preliminary examination promptly,” Khan said in a statement.
This is the second time that the DRC government has approached the international court. The government made an initial referral in 2004 that convicted three former militia leaders over conflicts in the country including rebel leader Bosco Ntaganda, who was jailed for 30 years for mass murder, rape, and abduction, Thomas Lubanga Dyilo and Germain Katanga.
The ICC Prosecutor Khan said he will assess the two referrals and check if they are similar enough in scope to form a single investigation.
The M23 rebel group has captured large swathes of land in North Kivu province since coming back into action in 2021.
The DRC accuses Rwanda of backing the M23. Despite denials from Kigali, independent United Nations experts and several Western nations, including the United States, agree with Kinshasa.
In related news, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) on Thursday said nearly one million people have been displaced due to escalating violence and attacks by armed groups in the eastern DRC since January this year.
On Sunday, at least 46 people were killed in the latest incident which occurred at a camp for displaced persons in eastern Ituri province.