The Office of the Prosecutor has requested two new warrants of arrest in the DRC situation.
The first one relates to Bosco Ntaganda for the crimes committed as a top commander of Thomas Lubanga’s militia, the UPC/FPLC. Taking into consideration the findings in the final “Lubanga Judgement” the Prosecution will request to add charges against Bosco Ntaganda for the following crimes:
crimes against humanity of murder, persecution based on ethnic grounds, and rape/sexual slavery, and
war crimes of intentional attacks against civilians, murder, rape / sexual slavery and pillaging.
These crimes were committed over a large geographical area within Ituri, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) during the period September 2002 to September 2003. The attacks followed a consistent pattern: UPC/FPLC forces encircled the towns and villages of the Lendu and other non-Hema tribes, shelled them, and then ethnically cleansed the areas by killing and raping civilians, forcing their displacement to the surrounding forests and eventually looting their property.
The evidence was presented during the Lubanga trial and based on the Lubanga judgement the Prosecution is asking the Pre Trial Chamber to expand the charges against Bosco Ntaganda. This was the policy announced in 2006 and now implemented.
Since 2006, BOSCO NTAGANDA has been wanted by the Court for recruiting and using children under 15 to participate actively in hostilities. Thomas Lubanga was arrested and found guilty of these crimes but Bosco Ntaganda is still at large and continues committing crimes.
Impunity has a high price. When impunity prevails, populations on the ground are the victims. When impunity prevails, persons like Bosco Ntaganda are encouraged to continue committing crimes. They increase their power through violence. Bosco Ntaganda has used the time offered to him since the ICC arrest warrant was issued to move from Ituri to North Kivu, to expand his power on new territories, and to maintain a power base thanks to his crimes, and the violence of persons under his control. Now more than ever is the time to arrest him. His recent desertion from the FARDC has shown once again that he cannot be trusted; it is a renewed demonstration that power through violence only leads to more violence.
The Office also filed an arrest warrant application, against a leader of one of the most active militia in the Kivu provinces, Sylvestre Mudacumura, the Supreme Commander of the FDLR-FOCA. Together with Callixte Mbarushimana and with Ignace Murwanashyaka, currently on trial in Germany, Sylvestre Mudacumura is one of the main leaders of the FDLR, who launched a campaign of attacks against the civilian populations in the Kivus.
Who are the FDLR? The FDLR is an armed group created by people allegedly involved in the Rwanda genocide in 1994 who fled Rwanda and relocated to the Democratic Republic of the Congo(“DRC”). From their base in the DRC, the FDLR’s two immediate predecessors created conditions that triggered the First and Second Congo Wars, during which millions of civilians were killed and displaced.
Sylvestre Mudacumura is charged with- 5 counts of crimes against humanity: murder, inhumane acts, rape, torture and persecution and 9 counts of war crimes: attack against a civilian population, murder or willful killing, mutilation, cruel treatment, rape, torture, destruction of property, pillaging and outrage upon personal dignity.
The alleged crimes were committed by the FDLR-FOCA between 20 January 2009 and 31 August 2010, in North and South Kivu Provinces.
For too long the populations of North Kivu have been surrounded by violence. They are the victims of crimes committed by different groups: in particular MUDACUMURA’S FDLR and the CNDP under the command of Bosco Ntaganda Whichever way they turn, the civilian populations in the Kivus see violence, suffering and manipulation of their situation by armed groups. It is time for them to see justice.
The Kivu provinces are not a prize to be shared between the FDLR-FOCA, the CNDP or others. It is a place where people deserve to live in peace, where crimes should be punished and impunity should be fought.
The public request of the arrest warrant can contribute to demobilize those following NTAGANDA’s and MUDACUMURA’s orders. They can even arrest their leaders and demobilize.
Additionally, it is an opportunity for the DRC and Rwandan armies to refine their methods and transform war into an arrest operation. Open confrontations in the past have merely led to the killing of civilians.