DRC: ICC sentences Bosco Ntaganda to 30 years for war crimes and crimes against humanity

On 7 November 2019, a panel of trial judges at the International Criminal Court (ICC) unanimously sentenced Bosco Ntaganda to a total of 30 years of imprisonment, the highest penalty to ever be handed down by the Court. FIDH and several of its member organisations, the Association Africaine de Défense des Droits de l’Homme (ASADHO), Groupe Lotus and the Ligue des Electeurs, documented the crimes committed in the Ituri region, in the north-eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and submitted material to the ICC, leading to Ntaganda’s prosecution.

Earlier this year, on 8 July, Ntaganda was found guilty of 13 counts of war crimes and 5 counts of crimes against humanity, committed in the 2002-2003 Ituri conflict, in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the highest amount of charges any defendant before the ICC has been convicted of. Ntaganda held a senior position when the alleged crimes were committed, as deputy chief of staff and commander of military operations of the Forces patriotiques pour la libération du Congo (FPLC), and led troops in brutal atrocities against civilian populations.

During the sentencing hearing, judges stated that despite the gravity of the crimes committed and the absence of mitigating circumstances, a life sentence was not warranted as requested by one of the legal representatives of victims. The Chamber imposed specific sentences for each of the crimes committed by Ntaganda that ranged from eight years to 30 years of imprisonment amounting to an overall sentence of 30 years of imprisonment. The time Ntaganda has spent in detention at the ICC - from 22 March 2013 to 7 November 2019 - will be deducted from this sentence. Ntaganda may appeal this sentencing judgment within 30 days. The verdict of 8 July is also currently subject to appeals.

The sentencing reflects the gravity and multiplicity of the crimes he has been convicted for. It further recognizes, as highlighted by Judge Robert Fremr, the profound and lasting damage inflicted upon victims of sexual and gender-based violence, in particular children. While this sentencing will never be able to obliviate the victims’ suffering, FIDH hopes that yesterday marks a step forward in the fight against impunity for the crimes committed in DRC.

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