FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
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WASHINGTON – The United States should provide urgent diplomatic leadership to support the government of the DRC to arrest Ntaganda, a coalition of human rights organizations including the Enough Project said in a letter to Secretary of State Clinton.
"We have new hope that justice might be done," the coalition said. "Ntaganda’s brutal human rights abuses over many years have affected tens of thousands of Congolese citizens in eastern Congo and his avoidance of arrest is emblematic of continued lawlessness in eastern Congo. The people of eastern Congo have long stood against impunity for serious human rights violations. Their desire for justice burns strong, especially in the face of ongoing atrocities."
Ntaganda, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes including recruitment of child soldiers, was until recently living with impunity in Goma, DRC, as a general in the Congolese army. Last month, Ntaganda defected and launched a rebellion against the government from his stronghold in eastern DRC. This action has sparked international pressure for the Congolese government to arrest Ntaganda.
"Bosco Ntaganda has become the antithesis of security and development in Congo and his continued existence in the region remains anathema to any meaningful reform—not only in eastern Congo, but the country as a whole," said Aaron Hall, Enough Project associate director of research. "The international community must leverage the fact that Bosco is bad for business to the governments of Congo and Rwanda. Push these governments to recognize the longer term economic imperative to diffuse the current situation as a means to improve the climate for any number of political, security, and economic reforms."
In the letter, the coalition that also included Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and 50 Congolese organizations, called on the US to support the Congolese government to plan and carry out the arrest of Ntaganda,press the government of Rwanda, which has backed Ntaganda in the past, to support the arrest and not provide him with sanctuary, and prioritize comprehensive security sector reform in Congo.
“We now await concrete action to lawfully arrest Ntaganda in a manner which protects civilians from any potential fallout,” the letter said. “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.”