It was an open secret that one of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s worst tormentors, Bosco Ntaganda, lived on Avenue des Tulipés until 2012, crossing into Rwanda now and then despite a travel ban. Rich off the proceeds of the illegal tax revenues he imposed on local mines, he served as a general in the Congolese army.
For a wanted fugitive, the man nicknamed “the Terminator” lived a comfortable and unencumbered life. Six years before, a warrant for his arrest had been issued by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for his role in recruiting child soldiers.
Goma, the capital of Congo, is still trying to reintegrate these former combatants: boys now in their teens who were forced to become killers before they had reached puberty and now struggle to be seen as victims. A second warrant for Ntaganda, issued in July 2012, added four more counts of war crimes and three more of crimes against humanity. But no one wanted to move on Ntaganda.
It was widely acknowledged he was useful – an important interlocutor in a region that is perpetually about to slide back into violence. Ntaganda’s apparent impunity was a neon sign that the ICC’s reach and relevance, 12 years on from its creation, were weak and waning, and that justice for war criminals remains subordinate to global realpolitik.
Now, a cynical, targeted attack on the ICC by two Kenyan leaders charged with crimes against humanity has lifted the hood on the flaws in the global “court of last resort”.
Through what one experienced court insider calls “a dirty-tricks campaign,” the two killers are attempting to discredit and dismantle a system that, while far from perfect, metes out justice to victims of warlords and those responsible for state-sanctioned abuse.
(Getting Away With Murder)