Notorious Congo warlord Bosco Ntaganda was transferred Friday to the International Criminal Court in The Hague.
Mr. Ntaganda was taken from the US Embassy and flown to ICC where he faces charges including murder, rape and persecution in a rebel group’s deadly reign of terror that engulfed eastern Congo a decade ago.
Mr. Ntaganda arrived in The Hague and was taken to a cell shortly before midnight Friday.
He was nicknamed “The Terminator” because of his ruthlessness in war. Mr. Ntaganda became a symbol of impunity in Africa.
Mr. Ntaganda is an army general in the Democratic Republic of Congo and he was wanted by the ICC for war crimes.
Mr. Ntaganda’s transfer was hailed as a crucial step in bringing to justice one of Africa’s most notorious warlords.
The United States of America says for nearly seven years, Ntaganda was a fugitive from justice, evading accountability for alleged violations of international humanitarian law and mass atrocities against innocent civilians, including rape, murder, and the forced recruitment of thousands of Congolese children as soldiers.
“Now there is hope that justice will be done.” – Secretary Kerry
US Welcomes Transfer of Bosco Ntaganda
In his remarks in Washington DC, US Secretary of State John Kerry says the United States welcomes the removal of one of the most notorious and brutal rebels in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Bosco Ntaganda, from Rwanda to the International Criminal Court in The Hague.
“This is an important moment for all who believe in justice and accountability.” – Secretary Kerry
Kerry says ultimately, peace and stability in the D.R.C. and the Great Lakes will require the restoration of civil order, justice, and accountability.
Secretary Kerry notes that Ntaganda’s expected appearance before the International Criminal Court in The Hague will contribute to that goal, and will also send a strong message to all perpetrators of atrocities that they will be held accountable for their crimes.
He added the United States is particularly grateful to the Rwandan, Dutch, and British Governments for their cooperation in facilitating the departure of Bosco Ntaganda from Rwanda and his expected surrender to The Hague.
The ICC, which is based in The Hague, is the first permanent international court set up to prosecute individuals for genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and the crime of aggression. The DRC is one of seven situations under investigation by the Court, along with Central African Republic (CAR), Cote d’Ivoire, the Darfur region of western Sudan, Libya, Uganda and Kenya.
The recruitment and use of children in armed conflict by foreign and Congolese armed groups continue to this day in the north-east and east of the DRC. The Congolese national army has also used child soldiers.
Instability in Congo Calls for International Response
Citing that Democratic Republic of the Congo as one of those countries that deserves greater research and attention, the United States of America has underlined that the world should redouble its efforts to end instability in the African country.
US says instability in DRC also deserves a higher place on US foreign policy priority list.
Since its independence on June 30, 1960, the D.R.C. has been mostly a poster child for many of the problems that have afflicted Africa over the past five decades-military coups, rampant corruption, anemic development, health pandemics, runaway inflation, conflict minerals, and poor governance.
Redoubling Efforts To End Instability in D.R.C
The US asserts no other conflict or act of violence since World War II has come close to taking so many lives as in DRC.
Rwanda, Somalia, the civil war in the Sudan, and the conflict in Darfur all have commanded the world attention.
However, in the D.R.C., conflict and resulting disease have killed more than five million people since 1998.
The US believes the international community has a moral imperative to act more effectively in the D.R.C. to break this cycle of death and suffering and to address the other consequences of this violence particularly the unmitigated rape and sexual violence against women and children, the nearly two million internally displaced people, the approximately 450,000 Congolese refugees who have been forced to flee into neighboring countries, and the absence of secure and prosperous lives for virtually the entire country.
US Response to DRC Challenges
The United States has been working closely with others in the international community to resolve the underlying causes of the instability in the D.R.C., as well as helping to mitigate the most recent crisis in the eastern Congo.
The US recognizes a comprehensive approach is absolutely essential, and it has proceeded in such a manner to address security, political, humanitarian, and development challenges simultaneously.
The US has made reducing sexual and gender-based violence and fighting impunity top priorities.
The US have advocated at the highest levels for the arrest and prosecution of five officials of the Congolese army -the so-called FARDC five accused of sexual violence in 2008 and 2009.
The US is also training frontline Congolese soldiers on gender-based violence, human rights law, and other issues intended to improve civilian and military interactions.
US Committed To End Violence and Instability in DRC
Recognizing that the security and humanitarian situation in the D.R.C. is the most volatile and violent in Africa, the United States of America reiterated its commitment to helping the D.R.C. and its neighbors end the cycle of violence and instability.
The highest levels of the U.S. Government are committed to helping the D.R.C. and the region achieve a sustainable peace.
In the UN Security Council, actions were taken to ensure that five of the most senior and most abusive M23commanders are now under targeted sanctions, and we have placed those same individuals under U.S. sanctions,.
Talks between the D.R.C. Government and the M23 began on December 9 in Kampala, and are being mediated by Uganda as the chair of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region, known as the ICGLR.
The US government continues to urge the Ugandan Government to ensure that supplies to the M23 do not originate in or transit through Ugandan territory.
A peace agreement in 2003 formally brought years of war to a close, but fighting flared again in North Kivu that same year. An estimated 1.3 million IDPs remain in the DRC, while 350,000 Congolese have fled to other countries.