Kinshasa - The president of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Joseph Kabila, announced an amnesty on Wednesday for former members of the defeated M23 rebel army.
The amnesty covers “acts of insurgency, acts of war and political offences” committed in the DR Congo up to December 20, 2013, when the bill was approved by the government.
Announced on state television on Wednesday, the presidential order was welcomed by the UN and Western countries as a way of moving on from the conflict, which ended with an ignominious defeat for the M23 rebels in early November.
More serious crimes are excluded from the amnesty, including genocide, crimes against humanity, terrorism, torture, sexual violence, child conscription and embezzlement and looting.
But that did not prevent heavy criticism from local human rights activists. The amnesty “trivialised serious crimes and human rights violations,” said the National Network of NGOs on Human Rights in the DRC (Rhenadoc).