As the war crimes trial of Bosco Ntaganda opens today at the International Criminal Court (ICC), the Enough Project highlights the significance of this case in its potential to bring historic accountability for war crimes allegedly committed in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
Holly Dranginis, Policy Analyst at the Enough Project, said: "Ntaganda is charged with brutal crimes committed against a backdrop of vast minerals wealth. Ituri has been the site of some of Congo's worst violence – and it is also one of Congo's most minerals-rich regions. Violence against civilians during Ntaganda's reign at times resulted from battles to secure control over gold, diamonds and other precious resources. In the case that unfolds against Ntaganda in the coming months, if evidence reveals widespread theft of minerals, prosecutors have a duty to pursue charges of natural resource pillage as a war crime."
A former militia leader known widely as “The Terminator,” Ntaganda stands accused of eighteen war crimes and crimes against humanity for alleged attacks against civilians, widespread killing and rape, and the abduction of hundreds of children for use as soldiers. Current charges focus on a period during a violent armed campaign in the Ituri district of eastern Congo in 2002 and 2003.
"Ntaganda has been involved in at least half a dozen armed groups – including the national armies of both Congo and Rwanda – starting when he was a teenager,” Dranginis notes, “The crimes charged only concern a snapshot of that trajectory, but one hope is that this trial will in some ways shed light on the complexities of warfare in this region, the shuffling that occurs for individuals between groups and even nationalities, between soldier and business tycoon, between roles of victim and perpetrator."
Dranginis added: "This case is historic for a number of reasons, one is that it's the first time the ICC will examine sexual violence crimes against child soldiers allegedly under the accused's command. Typically sexual violence charges concern civilian victims – in this case, prosecutors will present evidence that militia commanders ordered or committed sexual violence against their own child soldiers."
Dranginis recently returned from research and interviews in eastern Congo and has heard from both survivors of the UPC's (Union des Patriotes Congolais) violence and current residents of Ituri.
About THE ENOUGH PROJECT
The Enough Project seeks to build leverage for peace and justice in Africa by helping to create real consequences for the perpetrators and facilitators of genocide and other mass atrocities. Enough aims to counter rights-abusing armed groups and violent kleptocratic regimes that are fueled by grand corruption, transnational crime and terror, and the pillaging and trafficking of minerals, ivory, diamonds, and other natural resources. Enough conducts field research in conflict zones, develops and advocates for policy recommendations, supports social movements in affected countries, and mobilizes public campaigns. Learn more – and join us – at www.EnoughProject.org