Better Know a Congolese War Criminal

Last week the pre-trial chamber of the International Criminal Court unsealed a warrant for the arrest of Bosco Ntaganda, also referred to as Taganda, or more colloquially as “the Terminator.” (Seriously.)

Ntaganda is implicated in atrocities that occurred in 2002 and 2003 when he was the chief of military operations for the Forces Patriotiques pour la libération du Congo (FPLC), the military wing of the Union des Patriotes Congolais (UPC). Specifically, he is accused of recruiting and using child soldiers in the Ituri conflict. [Ituri conflict CliffsNotes: Violence between Hema (UPC) and Lendu (FNI) arising out of inexplicable creation of a new province in the eastern DRC in 1999 by meddling Ugandan military commander. Death toll: 50,000+. Creepy western involvement angle: AngloAmerican Ashanti’s financial and logistical support for FNI in exchange for gold mine access.]

Anyway, the warrant was apparently issued on August 22, 2006, but kept under seal because “public knowledge of the proceedings in this case might result in Bosco Ntaganda hiding, fleeing, and/or obstructing or endangering the investigations or the proceedings of the Court.”

Now, I get what they’re saying, but I’m thinking Ntaganda “hiding or fleeing” would have actually been the better outcome, at least for the people of the eastern DRC. Because, after falling out with the UPC in 2006 and turning down a generalship with the Congolese national army, our friend the Terminator headed to the Kivus and joined up with Laurent Nkunda. (Probably couldn’t resist the offer of a shiny “Rebels for Christ” lapel pin.)

As the military chief of staff of Nkunda’s National Congress for the Defence of the Congolese People (CNDP), Ntaganda is now implicated in atrocities committed against civilians, mass rapes, and, big surprise, the forced recruitment of child soldiers in North Kivu.

I’ll say this for the man: He knows what he’s good at, and a change in location is not about to stop him from pursuing his chosen profession. I guess we should all just admire his commitment to perpetrating war crimes?

Kate Cronin-Furman

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