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Did Business Fuel DRC's War? - 2003-10-07

The international criminal court, the ICC, recently announced it will investigate the role of business in fueling the conflict in the DRC. The investigation will be part of efforts to prosecute war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.

Supporting the ICC’s efforts is the National Society for Human Rights in Namibia. From Windhoek, Executive Director Phil Ya Nangoloh spoke to English to Africa reporter Joe De Capua about international businesses operating during the DRC conflict.

He says, “We have over the years been complaining that businesses are fueling conflict in Africa. We have seen that in Angola, DRC and Sierra Leone.” He says, “There is widespread evidence that companies, be they from Africa, Europe or some other parts of the world, are really exploiting conflicts or fomenting conflict for financial gain.”

Mr. Ya Nangoloh is confident the ICC can prosecute such cases, especially small time businesses operated by mercenaries or African armies. But he admits large conglomerates may be tougher to “bring to book.” He says precedents have been set by the International Tribunal on Rwanda and the UN-backed special court for Sierra Leone.

He says the DRC has been exploited for its mineral wealth, including coltan, which is used in the booming industry of cell phones. His organization is willing to present evidence it’s gathered through its contacts in the DRC and present it to the ICC.