M23 rebel group defends right to hold criminal trials despite UN concerns
GOMA, Congo — A rebel group in eastern Congo on Friday defended its right to organize criminal trials despite concerns from the country’s United Nations mission, which has said that the proposed prosecution of 11 young men on weapons charges could not meet international standards.
The irony is palpable however that aside by any definition M23 are not a sovereign power.
Sovereignty is the quality of having independent authority over a geographic area, such as a territory. It can be found in a power to rule and make laws that rests on a political fact for which no pure legal definition can be provided.
A key element of sovereignty in a legalistic sense is that of exclusivity of jurisdiction. Specifically, the degree to which decisions made by a sovereign entity might be contradicted by another authority. Along these lines, the German sociologist Max Weber proposed that sovereignty is a community's monopoly on the legitimate use of force; and thus any group claiming the same right must either be brought under the yoke of the sovereign, proven illegitimate, or otherwise contested and defeated for sovereignty to be genuine
The M23 rebel group routed the government army and swept past U.N. peacekeepers last November to occupy the city of Goma, one of the country’s biggest. The rebels are currently in peace talks with the government, though negotiations have been rocky.
Well FARDC as per standard FARDC proceedure opted not to fight and instead concentrated on robbery rape and murder in Goma. The UN forces stood aside again as per their standard operating procedure. As for the peace talks they are a figment of the M23 leaderships imagination.
Kabasha Amani, a civilian spokesman for the group, said Friday that the rebels could not ignore criminals in the areas they control.
I assume that failure to join M23 is now a criminal offence ?
“We are fighting criminality in the zone we control, and suspects must be put on trial,” Amani said. “If the U.N. thinks we should stop trying to administer our territory and should ignore criminals, we don’t think that would be a good thing. We have been holding trials and now we have trained some criminal investigators.”
Roger Meece, the head of the country’s U.N. mission, expressed concern over M23’s plans to organize a trial of 11 young men accused of illegally possessing weapons.
On the other hand what a precedent to hoist M23 by their own petard.
In a statement Wednesday, Meece said such proceedings “could not, in current circumstances, conform to international human rights standards nor would the accused have all the guarantees of a fair trial.”
He also called for “the immediate and unconditional dismantling of the M23’s illegitimate parallel administration.”
I think that the African Brigade makes that fairly likely.
The rebels are under increasing pressure, facing a heavy buildup of government forces and the prospect that they might have to fight a new U.N. intervention brigade with an offensive mandate. They have been accused of rights abuses and have been widely blamed for the displacement of hundreds of thousands of people.
Not to mention the problems of training criminal investigators.
Although Amani defended the group’s efforts to crack down on criminality, M23 military spokesman Vianney Kazarama declined to say whether the trial would go ahead.
Kazarama said the decision of whether to go through with the trial was “purely a political question.”
Correct but also a hypothetical question.