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Rights group urges DRC to arrest war crimes suspect

Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] on Tuesday urged the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to arrest suspected war criminal Bosco Ntaganda [case materials], a Congolese general wanted [arrest warrant, in French] by the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] for war crimes. At a conference at the Holocaust Memorial Museum [official website; DRC conference page] in Washington, advocates called for Ntaganda's arrest prior to the DRC presidential and legislative elections that are scheduled to take place in November. Senior Researcher at HRW Anneke van Woudenberg said that arresting key war crimes suspects like Ntaganda would quell the unrest [RNW report] and "tear away the culture of impunity in Congo."

The warrant for Ntaganda's arrest was originally issued in 2006 but was not made public by the ICC [JURIST report] until 2008. The arrest warrant was issued under seal because "public knowledge of the proceedings in this case might result in Bosco Ntaganda hiding, fleeing, and/or obstructing or endangering the investigations or the proceedings of the Court," but ICC judges determined that those circumstances have since changed. HRW urged the Congolese government to arrest [press release; JURIST report] Ntaganda in October 2010. Ntaganda lives and moves openly in Goma, a city in the eastern bloc of the DRC. He gained leadership of the National Congress for the Defense of the People (CNDP) rebel group in 2009 as a result of a coup against former leader Laurent Nkunda [BBC profile; JURIST news archive]. Ntaganda became a general of the Congolese army after promising to integrate the rebel forces into the Congolese troops. As a result, the government has refused to execute the ICC arrest warrant against him, claiming that his presence is needed in order to maintain peace withing the troops.

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