Bosco Ntaganda was born on 5 November 1973 in Rwanda and later obtained Congolese citizenship. Throughout his life he fought for several armed groups, including the Rwandan Patriotic Army or the M23 in DRC.
In 2002, Ntaganda was the deputy chief-of-staff of Patriotic Forces for the Liberation of Congo (FPLC) in the rebel group Union of Congolese Patriots (UPC) and the chief of military operations. In this capacity he allegedly participated in conscription and recruitment of children under 15 years into the UPC/FPLC and of making them participate in the hostilities.
Ntaganda was equally accused of participating in a series of attacks targeted against cities and villages inhabited by the communities of Banyali-Kilo between 20 November 2002 and 6 December 2002 and the community of Walendu-Djatsi between 12 and 27 February 2003.
The DRC ratified the Rome Statute (the founding instrument of the International Criminal Court), on 11 April 2002. On 3 March 2004, the Government of the DRC referred to the Court the situation. After a preliminary analysis, the Prosecutor initiated an investigation into the situation on 21 June 2004.
Following investigation into crimes allegedly committed in the Ituri District since 1 July 2002, the Prosecution filed an application for the issuance of a warrant of arrest for Bosco Ntaganda on 12 January 2006.
On 13 July 2012, the Pre-Trial Chamber II issued a second arrest warrant for Ntaganda, based on an application for a second warrant by the Prosecution of 14 May 2012.
On 22 March 2013, Bosco Ntaganda surrendered himself voluntarily to the Court. His preliminary hearing took place on 26 March 2013 before one of the Pre-Trial Chambers of the International Criminal Court.
The confirmation of charges hearing in the case was held in February 2014. The Chamber confirmed the charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity on 9 June 2014. His responsibility was considered on the basis of different modes of liability for altogether 18 charges, including 5 counts of crimes against humanity and 13 counts of war crimes.
The trial of Ntaganda opened on 2 September 2015 before the Trial Chamber of the ICC. The Chamber heard over 100 witnesses and experts during 248 hearings, as well as five victims who presented their views and concerns.
On 8 July 2019, Trial Chamber VI found Mr Bosco Ntaganda guilty, beyond reasonable doubt, of 18 counts of war crimes (murder, attempted murder, targeting attacks against civilian population, rape, sexual enslavement, ordering the displacement of civilian population, enrolment and conscription of children under 15 years, attacks against protected property and destruction of the property of the enemy) and crimes against humanity (murder and attempted murder, rape, sexual enslavement, persecution, forced transfer of the population and deportation) committed in Ituri, DRC, in 2002-2003. The Chamber established his responsibility directly for murder as a crime against humanity and a war crime and persecution as a crime against humanity. For the other charges, the Chamber found his responsibility as an indirect perpetrator.
Pending the decision on sentencing, Ntaganda remains in detention.
2,123 victims participated in the trial, including former child soldiers and other victims of the armed groups previously under his command.
It is the first time that a person is sentenced for the crime of sexual slavery by the International Criminal Court. It is also part of the publicly declared effort to battle sexual and gender-based crimes.
THE FIRST CONGO WAR
After almost 40 years under the dictatorship of Mobutu, a new period of conflicts broke out in 1996 in the territory of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC, formerly known as Belgian Congo, Congo-Leopoldville or Zaire), as a result of the spill-over of the civil war raging in the neighboring Rwanda. At the end of the armed conflict – involving Rwanda and Uganda – Mobutu had to abscond, and Laurent-Désiré Kabila become the new Congo’s President.
THE SECOND CONGO WAR
Already in 1998 Kabila’s alliance with Rwanda and Uganda had turned in a state of hostility. Rebel groups engaged an armed conflict against governmental forces. Due to the involvement of about 25 armed groups and eight States – Angola, Chad, Namibia and Zimbabwe supporting DRC’s government, versus Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi supporting the rebels – the war is also known as Great War of Africa.
On 18 January 2001 Laurent Kabila died for the consequences of an attempt to his life, leaving the country in his son Joseph’s hands. After various ceasefire agreements during the years, the war formally ended in 2002. The peace agreement leads to new elections, won by Joseph Kabila.
THE CONFLICTS IN NORTH KIVU, SOUTH KIVU AND IN ITURI
New armed conflicts continued however in border regions of DRC between governmental forces and rebel groups. Ethnical differences and the high amount of natural resources present in the Kivus and in Ituri are among the main causes of the hostilities. Despite the fragile peace agreements signed in 2007 (Ituri) and in 2009 (Kivus), thousands of people keep dying due to famine and devastations left by the conflicts.
In 2005, the International Court of Justice recognized Uganda’s responsibility for violation of DRC territorial integrity during the Second Congo war, and for the unlawful exploitation of a consistent amount of DRC’s natural resources.
In 2005, Joseph Kabila referred DRC’s situation to the International Criminal Court (ICC), asking the Prosecutor to open investigations into crimes committed on the DRC’s territory since the entry into force of the ICC Statute. Until now, the ICC has issued seven arrest warrants within the situation in the DRC. Among these, Thomas Lubanga Dyilo was the first person ever to be convicted by the ICC.