Bosco Ntaganda

Bosco Ntaganda at the hearing in ICC Courtroom I on 2 September 2015 © ICC-CPI
Congolese militia leader Bosco Ntaganda is charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity, allegedly committed in Ituri, DRC. His trial opened September 2015.
Case status: 
Trial
Regions: 
Africa
Congolese militia leader Bosco Ntaganda is charged with five counts of crimes against humanity and thirteen counts of war crimes allegedly committed in the Ituri region of eastern DRC while he was deputy military head of the rebel group Patriotic Forces for the Liberation of Congo (FLPC). Trial opened on 2 September 2015.
Background: 

Born in Rwanda in 1973, and known as “Terminator” or “Warrior” among his troops for his tendency to lead from the front and directly participate in military operations, Bosco Ntaganda was the leader of several armed rebel groups suspected of committing atrocities in the Ituri region from the late 1990s onwards. In 2009, Ntaganda was made a general in the Congolese army under a peace deal and lived freely in Goma, eastern DRC despite being wanted by the ICC. In 2012, he and several others reportedly led a mutiny and created the M23 rebel group, causing renewed conflict in the region. In 2013, split in this group is reported to have led Ntaganda and his supporters to flee to neighboring Rwanda.

An arrest warrant for Ntaganda was first issued by the ICC on 22 August 2006, followed by a second on 13 July 2012. Ntaganda voluntarily surrendered by presenting himself to the United States Embassy in Rwanda on 18 March 2013, and was on 22 March 2013 transferred to The Hague.

Conflict in Ituri

Ituri is one of the worst affected regions in eastern DRC's prolonged armed conflict. It is estimated that at least 50,000 civilians have died in Ituri since 1999, with 5,000 of these in 2002-03 alone. From 1999, the Hema and Lendu ethnic groups were in conflict in Ituri over land and lucrative gold mines and trading routes. The localized fighting expanded after Uganda backed Congolese armed groups. The Ugandan army together with the Patriotic Forces for the Liberation of Congo (FLPC).  militia launched an offensive to control the Ituri capital of Bunia, allegedly adopting an organizational policy to attack non-Hema civilians.

In 2002-03, Ntaganda was deputy military head of the FLPC.  According to the ICC Office of the Prosecutor (OTP), this role made Ntaganda the third-highest rank in the FPLC and a direct subordinate of the then commander-in-chief Thomas Lubanga Dyilo, who would go on to become the first person convicted at the ICC.
 

Charges: 

Ntaganda is accused of five counts of crimes against humanity (murder, sexual slavery, rape, persecution, and forcible transfer of population) and thirteen counts of war crimes (rape of child soldiers, sexual slavery of child soldiers, enlisting and conscripting children under the age of fifteen years and using them to participate actively in hostilities, murder, attacks against the civilian population, rape, sexual slavery, pillaging, forcible transfer of population, attacks against protected objects, destruction of property, and destroying the enemy's property).

Ntaganda is alleged to have committed these crimes as an individual, jointly with another or through another person; alleged to have contributed to the commission of these crimes through a group of persons acting with a common purpose, and his intentional contribution was made with the aim of furthering the criminal activity or purpose of the group; alleged to have contributed to the commission of these crimes; alleged to have had effective command and control over forces that committed these crimes, and failed to properly exercise control and take all necessary and reasonable steps within his power to prevent or repress these crimes or submit them to competent authorities for investigation and prosecution.

Ntaganda allegedly held control over the FPLC training camp and field commanders, and was involved in higher level decisions about recruitment policy at the FPLC. During Ntaganda's tenure, children under the age of 15 were allegedely sent to military training camps and participated in hostilities in Libi, Mbau, Largu, Lipri, Bogoro, Bunia Djugu and Mongwalu.

These charges were unanimously confirmed by Pre-Trial Chamber II on 9 June 2014. The trial opened on 2 September 2015.

Challenges: 

On 19 March 2015, ICC judges recommended holding the trial’s opening statements in Bunia to bring proceedings closer to victims and affected communities. However, the Court’s presidency decided against it, citing uncertain security, victim welfare and high costs.

Cooperation
For almost a decade, civil society called on Congolese and international authorities to arrest Ntaganda who had been living freely in eastern DRC while a member of the Congolese armed forces, adding insult to injury for victims of his alleged crimes. While the involvement of the United States and Rwanda in the transfer of Ntaganda to The Hague demonstrates that non‐ICC member states can and should play an important role in ensuring that fugitives are brought to justice, governments must do more to ensure the arrest of all ICC suspects at large rather than wait for them to surrender on their own volition.
 

Victims: 

2149 victims have been authorized to participate in the trial against Ntaganda.