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Mineral traders in Rwanda helping fund Congo rebels, confirms UN panel

* Smuggling of Congo minerals to Rwanda, Burundi rises – UN

* Credibility of Rwanda mineral tagging jeopardized

* Congolese army commanders profiting from resources

By Michelle Nichols and Louis Charbonneau

UNITED NATIONS, Oct 16 (Reuters) – Traders in Rwanda profiting from tin, tungsten and tantalum smuggled across the border from mines in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo are helping fund a rebellion in their resource-rich neighbor, according to a U.N. expert panel report.

The confidential report, seen by Reuters on Tuesday, said while Congolese government requirements that exporters ensure minerals are conflict-free had halted nearly all trade from the country’s east, smuggling into Rwanda and Burundi had increased.

Impoverished Congo sits on large reserves of gold and the minerals used in electronics production and – according to a Chatham House study – an estimated 10 million people are directly or indirectly dependent on the mining industry.

M23 rebels commanded by warlord Bosco Ntaganda, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes, have been fighting government soldiers in eastern Congo’s North Kivu province since April. The U.N. report said Rwanda and Uganda were providing arms, troops and advice to M23.

“The credibility of the mineral tagging system in place in Rwanda is jeopardized by the laundering of Congolese minerals, as tags are routinely sold,” the report said of the practice to “bag and tag” products at the mine to certify their origins.

“Several traders have contributed to finance M23 rebels out of profits resulting from smuggling Congolese minerals into Rwanda,” it said, adding that Rwandan exports of tantalum and tungsten had risen in 2012 in tandem with increased smuggling out of Congo.

A recent study by nonprofit rights group the Enough Project, citing Rwandan government data, found that from 2010 to 2011 Rwanda’s mineral exports jumped 62 percent compared with a 22 percent rise in domestic mining production.

SHIFT TO GOLD

But profits by armed groups from trade in tin, tungsten and tantalum have been dented by a 2010 U.S. law requiring companies to disclose if they use minerals from the Congo. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission approved guidelines in August to enforce the conflict minerals law.

Companies need to conduct a due diligence check to track minerals through the supply chain to their origins to identify if any conflict minerals were used in their products.

The 44-page report by the U.N. Security Council’s Group of Experts – a panel monitoring compliance with U.N. sanctions and an arms embargo for Congo – said those profiting from the conflict mineral trade had easily adapted to the drop in price for some resources by shifting their focus to gold.

It also accused criminal networks within the Congolese army (FARDC) of profiting by smuggling resources and overseeing the trafficking of ivory by armed groups.

“Armed groups, FARDC criminal networks and miners easily shift to gold mines where due diligence requirements haven’t affected the trade,” the report said. “Nearly all gold from eastern DRC is smuggled out of the country and channeled through a few major traders in Kampala and Bujumbura.”

“In the United Arab Emirates, most Congolese gold is smelted and sold to jewelers,” it said.

The U.N. report was delivered earlier this month to the council’s Congo sanctions committee. Congo has also called for an embargo on trade in minerals from Rwanda.

Rwanda has historically benefited from the exploitation of hundreds of millions of dollars of Congolese minerals. Last year Rwanda returned to Congo more than 80 tonnes of smuggled minerals that had been seized.

Source: Reuters: Rwanda News

October 16, 2012   No Comments

“Paul Kagame could be indicted anytime” says ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda.

Fatou Bensouda - Chief Prosecutor - International Criminal Court (ICC)

Fatou Bensouda – Chief Prosecutor – International Criminal Court (ICC).

Pretoria – In  a recent discussion between Rwanda National Congress secretary general  on the African continent, Mr Kennedy Gihana and the ICC Chief Prosecutor  Ms Fatou Bensouda, it is clear that the gross human rights violation committed in the DRC with the support of the Rwandan dictator ( Paul Kagame) is high on the ICC agenda.

“ We do one investigation at a time, We have completed theinvestigations and indicted General Bosco Ntaganda after we convicted Lubanga. We will investigate any body any where regardlesstheir positions. At this stage I can not say whom we are investigating or considering to investigate”. Said Fatou Bensouda
When asked why the ICC has not used the same principles that were used to successfully prosecute former Liberian President (Charles Taylor) she reiterated that “if the tribunal for DRC crimes was to be created today, we could arrest Kagame as I speak”.
 “Am real disturbed by the Amnesty International report and other reports coming out of Rwanda about crime against humanity including torture, extra judicial killings, secret detentions of civilians in the hands of military institutions”. Said Fatou Bensouda.
The government of Rwanda, led by Paul Kagame, continues to deny her involvement in the DRC conflicts after several reports by UN group of experts and many rights groups has proved it to be the case. Meanwhile innocent Congolese and young men from Rwanda are subjected to fight for unknown causes.
The leadership of RNC assured her of their support of the work of ICC to help bring justice to the people or Rwanda and the DRC.
B.M Rwarinda
Source: RNCNewsOnline

October 16, 2012   No Comments