Amnesty International has said the United States and Rwandan governments must move quickly to hand Bosco Ntaganda over to the International Criminal Court (ICC).
The US State Department confirmed that Bosco Ntaganda – who heads a faction of the M23 rebels in the Democratic Republic of Congo, arrived at the US Embassy in Kigali, Rwanda on Monday.
His surrender follows weeks of clashes between rival M23 factions, one led by Ntaganda and former civilian leader of the Movement Jean Marie Runiga, and another under the command of Brigadier Sultani Makenga.
Amnesty International is now calling on the US and Rwandan authorities to ensure Ntaganda’s rights are protected pending his transfer to the ICC, where he can face a fair trial with full respect for his rights.
Sarah Jackson, Amnesty International’s Deputy Africa Director says surrendering Ntaganda to the ICC should act as a strong deterrent to others and help break persistent cycles of impunity that wrack eastern DRC.
Ntaganda, an ethnic Tutsi, is accused by the ICC of committing war crimes and crimes against humanity in Ituri, eastern DRC between 2002 and 2003.
Despite the ICC arrest warrant, Ntaganda was never arrested by the DRC or UN authorities. He was made a general in the Congolese army in January 2009, as part of a peace agreement integrating armed groups. The deal however collapsed in leading to the birth of the M23 rebel movement.
Amnesty International is also calling on the Congolese authorities to apprehend Sylvestre Mudacumura, the military commander of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, so that he too is surrendered to the ICC.
The ICC first issued an arrest warrant for Bosco Ntaganda in 2006 on allegations of recruiting children under 15 as soldiers into the Patriotic Forces for Liberation of Congo (FPLC) between 2002 and 2003. In July 2012, the ICC issued a second arrest warrant on allegations of war crimes and crimes against humanity, including for murder, rape and sexual slavery.