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Congolese surgeon Mukwege seeks international criminal court to tackle impunity

Congolese surgeon Mukwege seeks international criminal court to tackle impunity
Congolese Nobel Peace prize winner Denis Mukwege attends a press conference in Tokyo on October 3, 2019.   -  
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BEHROUZ MEHRI/AFP or licensors

Democratic Republic Of Congo

Congolese Nobel laureate Denis Mukwege on Friday called for an international criminal court for the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), whose eastern provinces have been wracked by armed groups for a quarter of a century.

In a statement issued in the runup to the annual UN General Assembly in New York, Mukwege said impunity for brutal crimes was entrenched and local people lived "in fear and horror."

Despite a regional state of siege imposed in May, "the security situation in these provinces does not seem to be improving," Mukwege said, referring to dozens of killings in recent months.

"(T)his tragic and scandalous situation is no longer tolerable," he said.

"In the face of political and security failures to find solutions, we are convinced that the path to lasting peace means having to use every mechanism of... justice," he said.

Mukwege, a surgeon who practices in the deeply troubled South Kivu province, was awarded the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize for treating hundreds of women victims of rape and sexual mutilation by armed men.

He called on President Felix Tshisekedi to urge the United Nations to set up "an international criminal tribunal" for the DRC and approve a mission of inquiry that would start work without delay.

Investigators, he said, should "exhume the numerous mass graves in the east of the country and collect and preserve evidence of acts likely to constitute war crimes, crimes against humanity and crimes of genocide."

South and North Kivu provinces and Ituri to the northeast were battered in the First and Second Congo Wars (1996-2003) and the civilian population today remains prey to a host of armed groups who massacre villagers and destroy their homes.

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