In what could turn out to be a victory for human rights in Africa, a notorious warlord in Congo just turned himself in to a US embassy. Here’s a breakdown of the situation.
1. His name is Bosco Ntaganda, nicknamed “The Terminator” by the Congolese people.
Originally from Rwanda, Ntaganda moved to Congo as a teenager, where he quickly fell in with violent militias.
2. He is wanted by the International Criminal Court
Ntaganda was first indicted by the ICC in 2006 for conscripting child soldiers, as well as terrorizing civilians in the Congolese region of Ituri between 2002 and 2003. It is also widely believed that he has committed human rights atrocities elsewhere in the country. More recently, he has been heavily implicated in the ongoing M23 rebellion, which began when hundreds of soldiers defected from the military and seized the provincial capital of Goma.
3. He turned himself in to the US embassy in Kigali, Rwanda
For reasons that are not yet clear, but in an undoubtedly calculated move, Ntaganda strolled into a US embassy in Rwanda on Monday and asked to be transferred to the ICC at The Hague, Netherlands. It is possible that a recent split in his militia group left him feeling exposed to his enemies. If the ICC has its way, he may soon regret his decision.
4. He enjoyed a privilaged lifestyle in Congo
Despite his accusations, Ntaganda reportedly lived in an upscale region of eastern Congo. Even after his indictment by the ICC, the Congolese military promoted him to the rank of general.
5. The US is not a signed nation of the ICC
The ICC maintains no military or law enforcement, so it relies on its signatory nations to turn over those that it has indicted. Since the US is not a part of the ICC, it is possible that Ntaganda will not be turned over. Though, there is significant pressure on Washington from human rights groups to do so, as Bosco “The Terminator” Ntaganda is widely believed to be the primary culprit in numerous atrocities. State department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said that, “We strongly support the work that the ICC is doing to investigate the atrocities committed in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. And we are going to continue to work with the ICC on this matter.”