Sylvestre Mudacumura

FDLR supreme commander Sylvestre Mudacumura. © France24
Former supreme commander of the FDLR rebel group Sylvestre Mudacumura has been wanted by the ICC for war crimes in the DRC since 2012.
Regions: 
Africa
Sylvestre Mudacumura is charged by the ICC with nine counts of war crimes in the Kivu provinces of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) as supreme commander of the rebel group Les Forces démocratiques de liberation du Rwanda (FDLR). An ICC arrest warrant was issued on 13 July 2012 remains outstanding

 

 

 

Background: 

Conflict between Rwandan rebel group FDLR and DRC armed forces in eastern Kivu provinces

Les Force démocratiques de liberation du Rwanda (FDLR) is a rebel militia based in eastern Congo since 1994 whose primary purpose is overthrowing the government of Rwanda. Although initially tolerated and even supported by the government of DRC, a change in policy around the start of the 2009 Kivus conflict saw the FDLR become a target of government military operations, leading to a period of intense internal conflict between the DRC armed forces and FDLR in the Kivus provinces. The alleged war crimes of FDLR in Busurungi and surrounding villages in 2009 have been characterized as being part of a retaliatory response to this.

Confrontations and reprisals between FDLR and DRC military operations in the Kivus in 2009 resulted in large-scale civilian fatalities, instances of rape, and displacement. NGOs at the time estimated that upwards of 900,000 civilians were forcibly displaced between January and August, over 6,000 homes were destroyed, around 7,000 cases of rape were reported, and approximately 1,193 civilian deaths had occurred by October 2009.

Mudacumura suspected of leading FDLR atrocities

Between early 2009 and the end of 2010, Sylvestre Mudacumura served as FDLR supreme commander. He has been at large since his arrest warrant was issued by the ICC on 13 July 2012.

The ICC Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) alleged that Mudacumura was an indirect co-perpetrator in conducting a campaign attacking civilian populations, and filed charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity. In issuing the arrest warrant, however, Pre-Trial Chamber II determined that there were insufficient grounds to believe that Mudacumurau was criminally responsible for crimes against humanity.

Mudacumura is also alleged to have participated in the 1994 Rwandan genocide, along with several other FDLR leaders.

Charges: 

Mudacumura is accused of nine counts of war crimes (attacks against a civilian population, murder, mutilation, cruel treatment, rape, torture, destruction of property, pillaging, and outrage upon personal dignity). He is alleged to have ordered, solicited, or induced the commission of these crimes.

Challenges: 

In July 2015 Human Rights Watch called on DRC authorities and UN peacekeepers to intensify efforts to arrest Mudacumura and transfer him to ICC custody in The Hague. "FDLR fighters under Mudacumura’s command have been responsible for some of eastern Congo’s worst atrocities, yet there has been little effort to arrest him,” said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch. “With Mudacumura at large, FDLR fighters have been committing horrific attacks against a long-suffering population.”