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For Immediate Release

Congolese Warlord Must Now Face ICC Trial on War Crimes Charges

Cambridge, MA - 03/19/2013

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) welcomes the news that notorious warlord Bosco Ntaganda has voluntarily entered US custody in Rwanda and agreed to face trial on war crime charges at the International Criminal Court.

The US State Department confirmed that Ntaganda showed up yesterday at the US Embassy in Kigali and asked to be transferred to the ICC at The Hague. Stephen J. Rapp, US ambassador-at-large for war crimes issues, tweeted that the US “is helping to facilitate his transfer.” PHR applauds that decision and urges the US to lose no time in carrying out that request.

Ntaganda, born in Rwanda, was dubbed “the Terminator” for the ruthlessness with which he is alleged to have operated during a military career in which he alternately opposed and allied with the army of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He faces charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity in connection with the recruitment and use of child soldiers in the DRC and the persecution, rape, sexual slavery, and murder of civilians. His victims are alleged to number in the thousands.

“For more than a decade, Ntaganda has operated with impunity, causing unconscionable havoc and suffering among civilians of the eastern DRC,” said Donna McKay, executive director of PHR. “His appearance before a court to account for his many heinous crimes will finally afford some measure of satisfaction to the families of his victims and is long overdue.”

PHR has long supported sanctions on Rwanda for funding Ntaganda and his rebels as they committed heinous crimes against Congolese civilians. Through its program on sexual violence in conflict zones, which works with local medical, legal, and judicial partners to end impunity for such crimes in DRC and other countries in the region, PHR has also witnessed firsthand the physical and psychological trauma and community terrorization caused by the long-running conflict.

Said Susannah Sirkin, PHR’s Director of International Policy and Partnerships: “For thousands of victims of sexual violence in eastern DRC, this development will come as very welcome news. But other perpetrators now at large must be arrested and brought to justice and ongoing violence must end before the DRC can do the healing it desperately requires.”

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) is an independent organization that uses medicine and science to stop mass atrocities and severe human rights violations. We are supported by the expertise and passion of health professionals and concerned citizens alike.

Since 1986, PHR has conducted investigations in more than 40 countries around the world, including Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, Sudan, the United States, the former Yugoslavia, and Zimbabwe.

  • 1986 — Led investigations of torture in Chile gaining freedom for heroic doctors there
  • 1988 — First to document the Iraqi use of chemical weapons on Kurds providing               evidence for prosecution of war criminals
  • 1996 — Exhumed mass graves in the Balkans and Rwanda to provide evidence for               International Criminal Tribunals
  • 1997 — Shared the Nobel Peace Prize for the International Campaign to Ban Landmines
  • 2003 — Warned US Policymakers on health and human rights conditions prior to and               during the invasion of Iraq
  • 2004 — Documented genocide and sexual violence in Darfur in support of international               prosecutions
  • 2010 — Investigated the epidemic of violence spread by Burma’s military junta
  • 2011 — Championed the principle of noninterference with medical services in times of               armed conflict and civil unrest during the Arab Spring
  • 2012 — Trained doctors, lawyers, police, and judges in the Democratic Republic of the               Congo, Kenya, and Syria on the proper collection of evidence in sexual               violence cases
  • 2013 — Won first prize in the Tech Challenge for Atrocity Prevention with MediCapt, our               mobile app that documents evidence of torture and sexual violence

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