Congolese general and M23 rebel leader Bosco Ntaganda appeared for the first time before the International Criminal Court (ICC) this week. An indictment for Ntaganda’s arrest was first issued seven years ago. The charges against him include murder, rape, sexual slavery, and conscription of children committed in 2002-2003 in northern Democratic Republic of Congo, one of the Campaign’s focus countries. His arrest and appearance in court are major victories in the struggle against impunity for perpetrators of mass sexual violence.
Known locally as “The Terminator” for his ruthless tactics, Ntaganda has been a rebel leader, a black market mineral trafficker, and a general in the Congolese army. Last week, he became the first indictee to voluntarily surrender to the ICC when he presented himself at the United States’ embassy in Kigali, Rwanda, and asked to be remanded to the court. US officials arranged to transfer the former warlord into ICC custody by the end of the week.
Ntaganda’s trial at the ICC will be a critical step towards justice for survivors of sexual violence in the Congo. The Campaign strongly supported his arrest, calling for his speedy transfer to the ICC. Once Ntaganda had arrived in The Hague, the Campaign hailed the concerted efforts of the Rwandan, US, and Dutch governments in bringing about the transfer. Ntaganda’s arrest cannot bring peace and stability to the eastern DRC on its own, but it does represent needed progress in tackling widespread sexual violence in the country. In the words of ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, “Today those who have long suffered at the hands of Bosco Ntaganda can look forward to the future and the prospect of justice secured.”
Bosco Ntaganda - Wanted for War Crimes [VIDEO], Human Rights Watch, 13 April 2012.
Congolese warlord Bosco Ntaganda in custody at International Criminal Court, Guardian, 22 March 2013.
Congolese Rebel Commander Tells War Crimes Court He Was Just ‘a Soldier’, New York Times, 26 March 2013.