By Mirembe Martina
The United States is currently working to transfer M23 leader, Bosco Ntaganda to the International Criminal Court (ICC).
Ntaganda surrendered to the US embassy in Kigali, Rwanda on Monday and the US State Department confirmed the news. “He specifically asked to be transferred to the ICC in The Hague. We are currently consulting with a number of governments, including the Rwandan government, in order to facilitate his request,” US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said.
The US has called for Ntaganda’s arrest and transfer to the ICC for several years and in 2013, he was added to its “War Crimes Rewards Program,” which offers money for information leading to the arrest of suspects wanted by the ICC and other international tribunals. “Bosco Ntaganda has for more than a decade led troops that have murdered, raped, and pillaged across eastern Congo,” said Ida Sawyer, Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch. “The United States has long been a strong voice for Ntaganda’s arrest. Now it can ensure that he finally faces justice, as the victims of these abuses have waited far too long.”
Human Rights Watch said he wants to be transferred to ICC. ICC issued a warrant of arrest for Ntaganda in 2006 for the war crimes of recruiting and enlisting children under 15 as soldiers and using them in hostilities when he commanded military operations for the Union of Congolese Patriots (UPC), another rebel group, in the Ituri district of northeastern Congo in 2002-2003.
His former ally Thomas Lubanga faced similar charges and was the first person convicted by the ICC.
In July 2012 the ICC issued a second warrant against Ntaganda for war crimes and crimes against humanity.