DRC: Congolese rebel leader, Bosco Ntaganda, to be tried for war crimes and crimes against humanity

28 August 2015 - The Hague, Kinshasa - On 2 September 2015, former Congolese rebel commander Bosco Ntaganda will face the International Criminal Court (ICC) for opening statements at his long-awaited trial in The Hague, Netherlands.FIDH and its member organisations in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) hail the opening of the trial as a momentous step towards justice for victims, including those who suffered from sexual and gender-based crimes, at the hands of Ntaganda and his troops.

Photo credit : ©ICC-CP

Ntaganda facing trial at the ICC is a huge victory for victims groups in the DRC who have fought tirelessly for his arrest, even when he flaunted his freedom openly as a member of the Congolese army. His ability to avoid arrest for so many years became a symbol for impunity—a symbol which now may be transformed into one of justice and redress,” stated our organisations.

Ntaganda acted as Deputy Chief of Staff and commander of operations in the rebel group Forces Patriotiques pour la Libération du Congo (FPLC), the military unit of the Union of Congolese Patriots. He is accused of leading brutal attacks against the population perceived to be non-Hema, such as Lendu, Bira and Nande ethnic groups, to drive them out of the mineral-rich region of Ituri. Although an ICC arrest warrant was issued in 2006, for years Ntaganda evaded justice while participating in different armed groups in the DRC, and later being appointed General in the Congolese armed forces. In a surprise turn of events, Ntaganda surrendered himself to the U.S. Embassy in Rwanda and was transferred to the ICC in 2013.

FIDH Vice President Dismas Kitenge, on the importance of the Bosco Ntaganda trial

Ntaganda is charged with a litany of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed between 2002 and 2003 in the DRC, including murder, rape, sexual slavery, pillage, forced displacement and the conscription and use of child soldiers.
Ntaganda’s trial is particularly significant for victims of sexual and gender-based crimes resulting from the conflict. Charges were confirmed against Mr. Ntaganda for the rape and sexual enslavement of members of the civilian population, as well as that of child soldiers conscripted into his ranks.

Accountability for the pervasive and devastating use of sexual violence as a weapon of war has thus far been absent from the ICC’s convictions in cases related to the conflicts in the DRC. The case against Mr. Ntaganda provides the opportunity for victims of such crimes to be recognised and to receive redress. It is also evidence of the implementation of a more comprehensive and gender-oriented prosecutorial strategy announced in recent years by ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda.

The Ntaganda trial should remind the national, regional and international community about the importance of the ICC in bringing justice to the victims of the most terrible crimes, including those perpetrated against women and girls. Bosco Ntaganda spent years inflicting untold suffering upon communities in the Eastern DRC. It is the ICC’s chance to hold him accountable where the national system did not.” added our organizations.


The DRC ratified the Rome Statute of the ICC in 2002, granting the Court jurisdiction over crimes committed by its nationals and on its territory. In 2004, the DRC self-referred the ongoing situation of conflict on its territory to the ICC, where an investigation was promptly opened.

To date, three other suspects in the DRC conflict have been tried at the ICC. Thomas Lubanga, the ICC’s first prosecution, was convicted in 2012 for the war crimes of recruitment, conscription and use of child soldiers. Germain Katanga was convicted in 2014 for assisting in the perpetration of both war crimes and crimes against humanity during the attack against Bogoro village in February 2003. Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui was acquitted in 2012 of charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity related to that same attack
The ICC has issued two additional warrants of arrest for crimes committed in the DRC, one against Callixte Mbarushimana, whose charges were not confirmed, and one Sylvestre Mudacumura, who remains at large.

Read our Q&A : Bosco Ntaganda and the International Criminal Court

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