Bosco Ntaganda should finally face justice in The Hague

Bosco Ntaganda, accused of massive crimes against the civilian populations, in Eastern Congo, since 2002/2003 walked into the United States` Embassy in Kigali, Rwanda, on 18 March, asking to be surrendered to the International Criminal Court (ICC), where two warrants of arrest are pending against him.

It has been almost seven years now since the ICC issued its first arrest warrant against Bosco Ntaganda. Now that the suspect has surrendered himself, the international community needs to make sure that the proceedings can start as soon as possible and guarantee full cooperation for his transfer and with all the organs of the ICC so that justice can be delivered, declared Patrick Baudouin, FIDH Honorary President.

FIDH and its member organisations in the Democratic Republic of Congo, ASADHO, LE and GL, welcome the declaration of the US, which is not a State Party to the ICC Rome Statute, that it will cooperate with the ICC, by facilitating the transfer of Bosco Ntaganda to the The Hague.

The ICC has issued two arrest warrants against Bosco Ntaganda in relation to crimes allegedly committed in 2002 and 2003. On 22 August 2006, the ICC Pre-Trial Chamber I issued an arrest warrant against him for his alleged participation in enlisting and conscripting children, and using them to participate actively in military hostilities, as commander of the Forces patriotiques pour la libération du Congo (FPLC). According to the ICC, Ntaganda would have only been subordinated to Thomas Lubanga Dyilo, who was the first person convicted by the ICC in March 2012.

The second arrest warrant against him was issued on 13 July 2012 by the ICC Pre-Trial Chamber II and relates to his alleged responsibility in the commission of murder, rape and sexual slavery, persecution, pillaging and attacks against the non-Hema civilian population in Ituri by the Union des Patriotes Congolais (UPC) and the FPLC.

In January 2009, the Congolese government integrated him as general in the Congolese army. He left this position when he created the rebel armed group the M23, in April 2012, which has been responsible for massive crimes in Eastern Congo, including killings, crimes of sexual violence and recruitment of children.

The effective prosecution of Ntaganda marks an important step in the fight against crimes of sexual violence in Congo. Those crimes have been systematically and massively committed in Eastern DRC and the most responsible have not yet been punished. The prosecution of Ntaganda would have never been possible without the endless efforts of thousands of victims to obtain justice, declared Dismas Kitenge, FIDH Vice- President and President of GL.

Ntaganda’s surrender and imminent transfer is a strong sign for those who are still committing serious international crimes in the DRC, stated Paul Nsapu, FIDH Secretary General of FIDH and President of LE. "As a State Party, the DRC has obligations. The Congolese authorities should make sure to implement the Rome Statute and to build the capacity of its judicial institutions to bring those responsible for international crimes to justice.

After the release of Callixte Mbarushimana and the acquittal of Ngudjolo, it is now the role of the ICC to make sure that there is quality justice delivered to the victims of the gravest crimes in the DRC, stated Jean-Claude Katende, ASADHO President.

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