In a letter sent today to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, a coalition of 142 Congolese and international human rights organizations—including the Enough Project, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and 132 Congolese civil society organizations—called on the U.S. to provide urgent diplomatic leadership supporting the governments of Congo and Rwanda in the arrest of the notorious warlord Bosco Ntaganda.
The broad collection of groups stresses that the time is ripe for Congo to heed growing domestic and international pressure to arrest the wanted war criminal.
In the letter, the coalition calls on the U.S. to:
- Support the Congolese government to plan and carry out the arrest of Ntaganda
- Pressure the government of Rwanda, which has backed Ntaganda in the past, to support the arrest and not provide him with sanctuary
- Prioritize comprehensive security sector reform in Congo
The letter states:
We now await concrete action to lawfully arrest Ntaganda in a manner which protects civilians from any potential fallout. Improved security for the population, based on the rule of law, begins with his arrest and it cannot wait any longer. The failure to arrest Ntaganda is a source of anxiety and trauma for the population of eastern Congo who fear he could launch a new wave of violence and human rights abuses as he has done in the past.
Identical letters were sent to Secretary Clinton’s diplomatic counterparts in Europe, urging those countries to also pressure the Congolese government to take steps toward ending impunity and bringing Ntaganda to justice. These letters illustrate the global consensus surrounding the need for Ntaganda’s arrest.
Organizations in Europe, North America, and Africa have united in the belief that peace in the Congo cannot be achieved without justice. To achieve lasting peace in Congo impunity must end, civilians must be protected not preyed upon by security forces, and the rule of law and human rights must be respected.
Ntaganda, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes including the recruitment of child soldiers, was until recently living with impunity in Goma as a general in the Congolese army. Last month, he defected and launched a rebellion against the government from his stronghold in eastern Congo. This action has heightened tensions in the region, sparking increased pressure on the Congolese government to arrest Ntaganda. The U.S. and international community should take advantage of this opportune moment and maximize support for his arrest.
To contextualize the events surrounding Ntaganda’s recent defection, the Enough Project has produced a new timeline chronicling major occurrences since the ICC convicted Ntaganda’s former commander, Thomas Lubanga, on three counts of war crimes. The timeline details the actions of Ntaganda, as well as the other defections, troop movements, diplomatic efforts, international involvement and clashes between the mutinous soldiers and the Congolese Army.
Read the full letter.
Read the complete timeline.