Accountability for Perpetrators: UN Officials Welcome ICC Sentence Against Bosco Ntaganda for War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity

New York, 7 November 2019 - Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, Virginia Gamba, Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, Adama Dieng, and Special Advisor on the Responsibility to Protect, Karen Smith, welcomed the sentencing of Bosco Ntaganda to 30 years in prison by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The officials reiterated their call to pursue justice and accountability for all perpetrators of such horrendous crimes.

The sentence of 30 years of imprisonment is the longest ruled by the ICC since its establishment in 2002. Ntaganda’s crimes include, among others, murder and attempted murder, rape, sexual slavery, persecution, intentionally directing attacks against civilians, and the conscription and use of children under the age of 15 into an armed group and using them to participate actively in hostilities.

“The sentence handed down today by the ICC sends a strong message to both perpetrators and victims that no one is above the law and that accountability for atrocity crimes must be pursue at all times," the three UN Officials stated. They commended the survivors for their courage and expressed their deep support and solidarity with the victims and their families.

“No sentence can compensate the suffering of the victims; yet, this verdict has the power to bring some peace and a sense of justice to victims and survivors of grave violations and human rights abuses in the DRC and around the world,” said the three UN Officials. They also stressed that there are other alleged perpetrators in ICC custody facing similar charges.

The three UN Officials emphasized the importance of justice and accountability in responding to human rights abuses and grave violations that constitute atrocity crimes, but also as a critical aspect of prevention of these crimes. They stressed that “promoting the rule of law and the enforcement of norms and legal instruments at national and international levels is essential in the fight against impunity and can help to deter recurrence.” They further stressed that the Court’s sentence against Bosco Ntaganda at a time when we are witnessing a dangerous disregard for fundamental rights and international legal norms and standards in many parts of the world, sends a strong message, in the region and globally, that sooner or later those who commit, incite or condone atrocities will be held accountable.”

They reminded states of their obligation to respect and implement international human rights law and international humanitarian law and of their duty to investigate. They added that when sufficient evidence is found, states should prosecute alleged perpetrators of crimes. They also called for reparation for victims, including rehabilitation when needed, with the best interest of all victims in mind.

The three UN Officials emphasized that although calls for accountability are more common, and impunity is all too widespread, we can and must do more, much earlier to save lives and prevent societies from collapsing and descending into horrific violence.

For more information:

Martine Nouma, Office of the Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide and Responsibility to Protect, New York. Tel: +1 212-963-0904 nouma@un.org

Fabienne Vinet, Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, New York. Tel: +1 212 963-8285 vinet@un.org