There is no evidence the M23 rebels, who are fighting the Congo government, have committed war crimes, a top US war crimes official has said.
"I made it clear that in my observation, to date, in terms of mass killings, rapes and atrocities, I do not see evidence of M23 having engaged in that level," Amb. Stephen Rapp, the head of the US office of Global Criminal Justice, told journalists in Kigali yesterday, in reference to a recent Guardian story which quoted him as saying senior Rwandan officials were open to international prosecution for their alleged support to the Congolese rebels.
"Three to four weeks ago, I was interviewed about the case regarding Charles Taylor and the meaning of that case internationally and what it means for all countries in the world.... There is no comparison between them and RUF (Revolutionary United Front)", he added.
RUF is a rebel group that fought the government of Sierra Leone between 1991 and 2002 which committed atrocities for which former Liberian leader Charles Taylor was indicted and later sentenced by an international tribunal to 50 years in jail.
Rapp said that while Washington believes Rwanda was backing M23 rebels "I didn't believe that there is criminal responsibility in any kind of cross-border support".
"What I said is that one can be held responsible for crimes even when you don't cross the border if you provide aid to a group that is committing atrocities and you know they are using it in that way and you continue to provide it, that's how we successfully prosecuted Charles Taylor".