Global Witness welcomes the move by Rwandan-born warlord Bosco Ntaganda to turn himself in at the U.S. Embassy in Kigali yesterday. The group warns, however, that lasting peace in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) will only be possible once the M23 rebels, previously led by Ntaganda and still active in the Kivu provinces, are dismantled and their remaining leaders held to account.
Ntaganda, nicknamed the Terminator for his record of violence, asked officials at the U.S. Embassy to transfer him to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague. Indicted by the ICC for war crimes and crimes against humanity in the Congo conflict, Ntaganda has for years orchestrated a lucrative mineral smuggling racket between eastern DRC and Rwanda, using the proceeds to fund armed activities. The conflict in eastern DRC has led to over five million deaths with millions more people injured and displaced.
“Bosco Ntaganda’s surrender is a rare opportunity for justice in eastern Congo and the U.S. should transfer him to the ICC immediately,” said Annie Dunnebacke of Global Witness. “His arrest could be a significant step towards breaking the fifteen-year cycle of violence in the Kivus.”
Ntaganda was integrated into the Congolese army in a 2009 peace agreement alongside the CNDP rebel group. In a backroom deal, Ntaganda was handed the rank of General and his troops given control of eastern DRC’s most lucrative mining areas. Global Witness and United Nations experts repeatedly exposed how Ntaganda and his cronies maintained parallel command structures within the military and made tens of millions of dollars per year from illegal control of the minerals trade.
The M23 insurgency, spearheaded by Ntaganda in early 2012, is mostly made up of former CNDP fighters and was in part funded with cash from the minerals trade. The M23 split into two factions last month as Ntaganda lost ground against rival rebel leader General Sultani Makenga.
“The M23 mutiny is a tragic illustration of the cycle of botched integration and rebellion that has characterised recent peace deals in the Great Lakes region. Any agreement between the Congolese government and M23 rebels must include accountability mechanisms for human rights abusers and safeguards against future insurgencies, including putting an end to the military’s illegal involvement in the minerals trade,” said Dunnebacke.
International due diligence standards for companies sourcing minerals from eastern DRC have been developed by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and passed into law by U.S. Congress. The DRC government enacted legislation last year making it obligatory for mining and mineral trading companies operating in the country to do due diligence in line with OECD standards. Companies must carry out robust risk assessments as part of their due diligence, to make sure their mineral purchases are not funding warlords like Ntaganda.
Global Witness is available for interview and background briefings.
Annie Dunnebacke: [email protected]; +44 7912 517 127; +44 207 492 5897.
Notes to editors:
- For more information on Bosco Ntaganda’s links to the minerals trade please see Global Witness reports: http://www.globalwitness.org/sites/default/files/120531_Coming%20Clean_lowres.pdf; http://www.globalwitness.org/sites/default/files/library/Congo's%20minerals%20trade%20in%20the%20balance%20low%20res.pdf; http://www.globalwitness.org/sites/default/files/library/The%20hill%20belongs%20to%20them141210.pdf.
- For information on Bosco Ntaganda’s human rights record please see Human Rights Watch reports: http://www.hrw.org/topic/international-justice/bosco-ntaganda.