Bosco Ntaganda, whose armed groups terrorized the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, was sentenced by the International Criminal Court (ICC) on November 7, 2019, to 30 years in prison for war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Ntaganda’s name still send chills across Congo, as he is remembered by his victims for his ruthlessness.
Deputy Africa Director Ida Sawyer documented his abuses – including massacres, sexual slavery, and using child soldiers – for many years as a Human Rights Watch researcher based in Goma.
She speaks to Audrey Wabwire about Ntaganda, and what this conviction and sentencing mean.
How long had you been investigating Ntaganda’s abuses?
I started documenting his abuses when I first moved to Goma in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo in 2008.
Bosco Ntaganda was a member of the Rwandan-backed CNDP (Congrès national pour la défense du peuple – National Congress for the Defense of the People) rebel group, which committed countless atrocities against civilians.
In late 2008, in the town of Kiwanja, north of Goma, Ntaganda orchestrated an attack where 150 people were killed over two days. For the next five years, I spent a lot of time covering his abuses, speaking to survivors who told harrowing tales of attacks they had survived.
As part of a deal that was negotiated with the Congolese and Rwandan governments, Ntaganda was integrated into the Congolese army and became a general, commanding military operations in eastern Congo.