International Justice Monitor

A project of the Open Society Justice Initiative

Judges Lift All Restrictions on Ntaganda’s Communications and Visits

International Criminal Court (ICC) judges have lifted all restrictions that were imposed on war crimes accused Bosco Ntaganda’s communications and visits. The restrictions were put in place two and a half years ago after the prosecution alleged that he was trying to influence witnesses.

In a ruling last month, judges determined that since the evidentiary phase of the case was coming to a close, it was no longer necessary to maintain these restrictions on the former Congolese rebel leader. The restrictions had been imposed to ensure the safety of witnesses, prevent breaches of confidentiality, and ensure the integrity of proceedings.

Judges have now determined that, without further evidence of misconduct, maintaining any restrictions on Ntaganda’s communications would “unduly impinge upon his fundamental … Continue Reading

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Reactions from the Population of Bunia to the Possibility of Holding Closing Statements in Situ

This article was prepared by our partner Radio Canal Révélation, a radio station based in Bunia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), as part of an interactive radio project on justice and peace which encourages a debate on issues related to justice in the DRC. The views conveyed in this article belong to the people interviewed and do not necessarily represent the views of all the community members, or those of the victims.


Most inhabitants of Bunia are in favor of holding closing statements in their city in the case against Bosco Ntaganda, but some are still skeptical because of ongoing bloody conflicts.

Almost 60 people out of 100 included in the project among the population of affected communities welcome the … Continue Reading

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Ntaganda’s Witnesses Complete Testifying at the ICC

Lawyers for Bosco Ntaganda have completed oral presentation of evidence in the former Congolese rebel commander’s trial. However, they are continuing to present the defense case, including through documentary evidence and the previously recorded testimony of witnesses.

According to defense lawyers, their case was significantly cut short once judges allowed Ntaganda to testify at the start of the defense case, as that made it unnecessary to call some of the witnesses that had earlier been lined up. Following the completion of Ntaganda’s testimony, the defense slashed the number of its witnesses to 40 – nearly a third of the 111 witnesses whom they had indicated that they intended to call back in May 2017.

Ntaganda, who has been on trial at the … Continue Reading

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Ntaganda’s Lawyers Support Holding Closing Statements in Bunia, Congo

International Criminal Court (ICC) judges trying former rebel leader Bosco Ntaganda are considering hearing the closing statements in his trial from Africa, either in the Democratic Republic of Congo where the crimes he is on trial for were committed or “at a location relatively proximate to it.”

In response, Ntaganda’s lawyers have said they support the closing statements being heard in the eastern Congo town of Bunia, which they termed “the place closest to the persons most interested” by Ntaganda’s trial.

However, they warned that taking the hearing far from Bunia, for example to Congo’s capital Kinshasa or to Arusha, Tanzania “would not be meaningful and [would] actually defeat the purpose sought.” Arusha, where the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) sat, … Continue Reading

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Child Soldiers’ Age at Center of Recorded Witness Testimony Admitted Into Ntaganda Trial Evidence

Having cut the number of their witnesses from 110 to about 40, Bosco Ntaganda’s lawyers are also submitting recorded testimony of several witnesses as opposed to calling them to testify in person. This has reduced the time over which the defense will present its case in Ntaganda’s trial for war crimes and crimes against humanity at the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Judges have recently granted a defense application to admit the prior recoded testimony of six defense witnesses. The defense submitted that calling witnesses to testify about very specific information would not be in the interest of an expeditious trial or the efficient use of court resources.

The statements were admitted under the court’s Rule 68(2)(b), which provides that if the witness … Continue Reading

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Ntaganda Hearings Resume with Testimony Challenging Witness Who Alleged Sexual Relations in Congolese Militia

On Monday, the defense for war crimes accused Bosco Ntaganda presented a witness to challenge the testimony of a prosecution witness who testified about allegations of non-consensual sexual relations within the militia that Ntaganda commanded.

In the brief moments of open court, he said he was a trader in eastern Congo’s Ituri province during the 2002-2003 ethnic conflict, when Ntaganda and his Union of Congolese Patriots (UPC) fighters allegedly committed war crimes and crimes against humanity.

In an October 2017 application to add Witness D207 to its list of witnesses, the defense stated that his anticipated testimony directly contradict the testimony of prosecution Witness P898.

However, challenging the defense request, the prosecution stated that Witness D207’s proposed testimony was not relevant as it … Continue Reading

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Alleged Rape of Child Soldiers the Focus of Ntaganda’s Latest Witness

The alleged rape of child soldiers in a Congolese militia was the focus of Thursday’s testimony by a witness called by lawyers for former rebel leader Bosco Ntaganda. Ntaganda, who has been on trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC) since September 2015, is charged with 18 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity, including the rape and sexual abuse of child soldiers.

Witness D215, who served with the Union of Congolese Patriots (UPC) rebel group, disputed the account of a prosecution witness known as Witness P10, an alleged former UPC child soldier, who said there was sexual abuse within the UPC. She testified largely in closed session.

According to the defense, the testimony of Witness D215 – a female fighter … Continue Reading

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Evidence About Ntaganda’s Communication Capabilities Heard in Closed Session

Today, judges trying former Congolese rebel leader Bosco Ntaganda heard about the communication capabilities of the Union of Congolese Patriots (UPC) militia he commanded. This testimony came from the tenth witness called by the defense.

However, evidence by the witness was heard in closed session in order to save him from reprisals for testifying at the International Criminal Court (ICC). He resides in Ituri district in eastern Congo, the area where Ntaganda reportedly committed several crimes 15 years ago. The court’s Victims and Witnesses Unit (VWU) advised that the witness’s identity be withheld given the instability in the region

Testifying under the pseudonym Witness D243, this individual is a recent addition to the list of witnesses to be called by the defense. … Continue Reading

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Prosecutors Challenge Witness Testimony That Ntaganda’s Troops Did Not Commit Atrocities

The prosecution has disputed the account of a former fighter in Bosco Ntaganda’s Union of Congolese Patriots (UPC), who said members of the militia did not commit atrocities during attacks in 2002 on villages inhabited by members of the Lendu ethnic group.

During the cross-examination of Witness D017, trial lawyer Diane Luping read excerpts from three documents that detailed acts of rape, pillaging, and killings allegedly committed by UPC fighters in the localities of Zumbe and Kamande. The documents included a report by the former United Nations Mission in Congo (MONUC), which detailed the killing of 120 civilians in Zumbe by UPC fighters on October 15-16, 2002.

The UPC, in which Ntaganda was the deputy chief of staff, was predominately composed of … Continue Reading

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Ntaganda Trial Resumes With Testimony of Former UPC Militiaman

After a five-week break, hearings in the trial of Bosco Ntaganda at the International Criminal Court (ICC) resumed on Monday with the testimony of the ninth defense witness – a former fighter in the Union of Congolese Patriots (UPC), the militia where the accused was a top commander. The defense case for Ntaganda, who denies 18 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity, opened last June.

The former militiaman, who is testifying under the court-given pseudonym Witness D017, has been the subject of numerous submissions before the chamber. Due to undisclosed challenges, he was last month unable to appear before judges as planned. At the time, the defense said it was unable to finalize reviewing Witness D017’s evidence prior to … Continue Reading

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