Africa Rights Watch

Reparations Finally Given to the Many Victims of War Criminal Bosco Ntaganda

By: Samuel Schimel

Impunity Watch Staff Writer

THE HAGUE, NetherlandsBosco Ntaganda, whose armed forces terrorized the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, was once again on trial in Chamber VI of the International Criminal Court (“ICC” or “Court”) on March 8th, 2021. What was conveyed by the Chamber in a public hearing was the formation of an Order of Reparations to victims under Article 75 of the Rome Statute in the case of The Prosecutor v. Bosco Ntaganda. Ntaganda was originally sentenced by the ICC to 30 years in prison for war crimes and crimes against humanity on November 7th, 2019. In the 2021 decision, the Chamber, composed of Judge Chang-ho Chung, Judge Robert Fremr, and Judge Olga Herrera Carbuccia, set the reparations award, for which Ntaganda is liable, at a total of USD 30,000,000.

Bosco Ntaganda at Trial Chamber VI of the International Criminal Court during the order for Reparations. Photo Courtesy of Reuters.

Nicknamed the “Smiling Terminator,” among others, Ntaganda was first indicted in 2006 for allegedly recruiting child soldiers during the Democratic Republic of Congo’s five-year war. He was a member of the Rwandan-backed Congrès national pour la défense du peuple – National Congress for the Defense of the People (CNDP), a rebel group that has committed countless atrocities against civilians. While a part of this group, he orchestrated an attack where 150 people were killed over two days in the town of Kiwanja, North of Goma. Ntaganda was integrated into the Congolese army and became a general. He commanded military operations in eastern Congo after an agreement was reached between the Congolese Army and the Rwandan government. For many Rwandan donors, the final straw was Ntaganda’s creation of the M23, another rebel group backed by Rwanda. As the leader of the group, Ntaganda orchestrated many other attacks on villages, executed hundreds of people, and was accused of rape, torture, and the forceful recruitment of child soldiers.

He surrendered to the U.S. embassy in Kigali, Rwanda’s capital, in March 2013, and was transferred to the Hague some time afterward. Ntaganda was convicted on thirteen counts of war crimes followed by five counts of crimes against humanity. These counts included murder, rape, and sexual slavery committed during the conflict in the East of the Democratic Republic of Congo, in 2002 and 2003. On the basis of the Rome Statute, Ntaganda was sentenced to 30 years of imprisonment.

Given his criminal history, the eligible victims for reparations are direct and indirect victims of the attacks, victims of crimes against child soldiers, victims of rape and sexual slavery, and children born out of rape and sexual slavery. The Chamber notably found that the priority shall be given to individuals who are in need of immediate medical and psychological care, victims with disabilities, the elderly, victims of sexual or gender-based violence, victims who are homeless or have encountered financial hardship, as well as children born out of rape and sexual slavery and former child soldiers. A gender-inclusive and sensitive approach to the reparations will also be instituted.

The Chamber additionally encouraged the Trust Fund for Victims to add funds that would accompany the reparation awards, to the extent that is feasible given its available resources, and to take part in additional fundraising efforts as necessary to accompany the totality of the award. The Trust Fund for Victims was asked to create a draft implementation plan on the basis of all the modalities of reparations identified in the order, with the victim’s input. These modalities of reparations within the order incorporate measures of restitution, compensation, rehabilitation, and satisfaction, which may incorporate, when appropriate, a symbolic, preventative, or transformative value. The due date for the Trust Fund’s plan is September 8th, 2021 and an urgent plan for priority victims is due on June 8th, 2021. 

Ntaganda’s name is still likely to send chills across the citizens of the Congo and he is particularly remembered for his ruthlessness. Many of the victims of Ntaganda’s crimes have been forced into exile since they were threatened with more suffering if they dared to speak up against him during his trial. Hopefully, the judgment can be of some consolation to the victims, and may they finally be given the reparations they deserve.

For further information, please see:

BBC – Bosco Ntaganda – the Congolese ‘Terminator – 8 July

International Criminal Court – Ntaganda case: ICC Trial Chamber VI orders reparations for victims – 8 Mar. 2021

Human Rights Watch – Congo Warlord Gets 30 Years: Persistence Over Many Years Helps Bring Bosco Ntaganda to Justice – 7 Nov. 2019

International Criminal Court – Bosco Ntaganda sentenced to 30 years’ imprisonment – 7 Nov. 2019

Reuters – War crimes court orders record $30 million compensation for Congo victims – 8 Mar. 2021

Violence Escalates in Mozambique

Mark Burroughs

Impunity Watch Staff Writer

CABO DELGADO, Mozambique – The crisis in Mozambique has reached its third year. Amnesty International has reported that thousands of civilians have been killed by multiple parties including the terror group Al-Shabaab, government security forces, and a group of government-hired mercenaries known as the Dyck Advisory Group (DAG).

Maria Antumane with her aunt. Photo courtesy of the Daily Beast and Nyasha Kadandara

DAG is a South African private military company that the Mozambique government hired after they lost several battles. DAG primarily fights using helicopters and has dropped bombs on both Al-Shabaab fighters and civilians in multiple villages. The Mozambique government has targeted men that are believed to be supportive of Al-Shabaab. Amnesty International acquired photos and videos that show the mistreatment of prisoners, from the fighting, by the Mozambique government. Amnesty International has accused Mozambique’s government of not fulfilling its obligation to protecting its citizens. The violence from all parties, specifically, Al-Shababb, has resulted in the death of over 1,300 civilians and the displacement of 668,000 civilians.

The central location of the violence in Mozambique has been in the Cabo Delgado region, which is considered one of Mozambique’s poorest regions, and many of the victims have been children. One mother described how she was forced to watch her oldest son be killed saying, “we tried to escape to the woods, but they took my eldest son and beheaded him. We couldn’t do anything because we would be killed too.” Elsa is not the only mother to have lost a son in the insurgency. In another account, a mother was forced to flee from her village to her father’s house after her 11-year-old son was killed. She was again forced to flee when the attacks started in her new location.

In another interview, 10-year-old Maria Antumane stated that she was forced to flee Bilibiza saying, “I saw this happening. Killing. The men told us, ‘sit there and watch someone be beheaded.'” Maria managed to flee just as a group of militant men burned down her village. Maria’s parents were killed in the attack on the village, and she has since been living with her aunt named Ana Maria Biche.

The massacre in Mozambique has drawn the concern of its former colonizer, Portugal. The Defense Minister of Portugal, João Gomes Cravinho, has proposed a military training mission to Mozambique to end Al-Shababb’s insurgency. The European Union (EU) has already been struggling with its current peacekeeping missions. It is not clear if they will be willing to increase their military bloc’s presence in the region; however, Cravinho remains positive.

For more information, please see:

Amnesty International – Mozambique: “What I saw is death”: War crimes in Mozambique’s forgotten cape – 2 Mar. 2021

Amnesty International – Mozambique: Civilians killed as war crimes committed by armed group, government forces, and private military contractors – new report – 2 Mar. 2021

BBC – Hungry, angry and fleeing the horrors of war in northern Mozambique – 13 Mar. 2021

BBC – Mozambique insurgency: Children beheaded, aid agency reports – 17 Mar. 2021

Daily Beast – Child forced to watch beheadings: Rare Look in the Mozambique Massacres – 10 Mar. 2021

NPR – ‘The Stories Are Heartbreaking.’ What 1 Reporter Witnessed In Mozambique’s Violence – 13 Mar. 2021

Politco – Portugal wants EU to help Mozambique military fight jihadists – 12 Mar. 2021

Morning Massacre in Mozambique

By: Alexis Eka

Impunity Watch Staff Writer

PALMA, Mozambique – On March 29, 2021, hundreds of people remain missing several days after an Islamic State (ISIS) associated group referred to as Al-Shabab raided Palma in Mozambique’s northern province near Cabo Delgado. Since March 25, 2021, there has been an increase in violence when this group raided the gas-rich town of Palma. There has been a recent increase in killings and wounding, subsequently causing the flight of a numerous number of civilians. Several hundreds of militants invaded Palma targeting shops, banks, and military barracks.

Mozambican army soldiers patrol the street of Mocimboa da Praia in March 2018. Photo Courtesy of Getty Images.

The attack in Palma began hours after Mozambique’s government and Total, the French oil and gas company, announced that they would continue work outside of the Provenience on the natural gas project near Mozambique’s northeastern border with Tanzania. Palma Provenience is a large gas project run by a France energy giant. As a result of this violence, approximately 200 workers sought shelter in the Palma hotel. News reports state that many people were running and shooting, alluding to the fact that Al-Shabab was present.  Omar Saranga, a representative for Mozambique’s defense department, expressed to journalists that “[o]n March 24, a group of terrorists penetrated the headquarters of Palma village and unleased actions that culminate with the assassination of dozens of defenseless people including both locals and foreigners working in the region.”

The violence has left more than 2,500 people dead and approximately 700,000 displaced and severely injured since the beginning of the insurgency in 2017. Reports from the media and witnesses from Palma indicate that many citizens have been beheaded and their remains lie along the streets of the Palma provenience. Phone lines to Palma have been down; therefore, making it difficult to obtain information.

Mozambican civilians continue to look to their governmental authorities to ensure their safety and security. Security forces and resources deployed to Palma have been advised to respect humanitarian law and to maintain all civilians in their custody with decency and humanely.

For further information, please see: 

AP News – Rebels besiege town in northern Mozambique for fifth day – 29 Mar. 2021

BBC – Mozambique Dozens dead after militant assault on Palma – 29 Mar. 2021

CNN – Foreigners and locals among dozens killed in Mozambique terror attack – 29 Mar. 2021

Human Rights Watch – Mozambique: Protect Residents Fleeing Northern Town – 26 Mar. 2021  

Human Rights Watch – Hundreds Missing After Mozambique Attack – 29 Mar. 2021

NPR – Insurgents Kill Dozens In Attack On Natural Gas Complex in Mozambique – 29 Mar. 2021


Freedom of Assembly and Expression Threatened in Senegal as Protesters are Beaten and Killed in Response to the Arrest of Prominent Opposition Leader, Ousmane Sonko

By: Chiara Carni

Impunity Watch Staff Writer

DAKAR, Senegal –  Protests arose on March 3, 2021, after the arrest of opposition leader Ousmane Sonko over rape allegations. Ousmane Sonko has denied the rape accusations and believes that his arrest was a political move called for by President Macky Sall and Sall’s government. Subsequently, Senegalese activists called for protests over a three-day period to combat the arrest of the opposition leader. “The Movement for the Defense of Democracy (M2D), a coalition of groups demanding change in the West African nation, announced the decision in a press conference.”  The press conference also demanded the release of political prisoners held by President Sall and his government.

Protesters shout slogans near the Justice Palace of Dakar, Senegal. Photo Courtesy of Human Rights Watch.

Following his arrest, Ousmane Sonko was charged with disturbing public order and participating in an unauthorized demonstration while he was on his way to court to respond to the rape accusation. According to Amnesty International, the protests in Senegal have already led to the deaths of at least eight individuals, some of them caused by excessive use of force and firearms by government security forces. Additionally, approximately 235 people were injured during the protests on March 5th in Dakar, and around 100 people have been arrested since March 3rd.  

Security forces fired tear gas and live bullets to disperse protesters. Ida Sawyer, the deputy Africa director at Human Rights Watch, said “the recent deaths and injuries of protesters should be credibly investigated, and security force members” should be held responsible for unlawful or excessive use of force. Additionally, Human Rights Watch reported nationwide internet disruptions throughout “the day on March 5, making it difficult for national and international journalists, human rights activists,” and others to communicate, gather information, or report on current events.

Senegalese citizens and human rights activists are concerned with the lack of protection afforded to them by the Senegalese Constitution to protect their right of freedom of assembly and expression, and uphold the prohibition of the excessive use of force by law enforcement officials. The United Nations Human Rights Council has previously condemned internet shutdowns by governments and stated that human rights apply offline and online.  

President Sall addressed the nation on March 8th, calling for “calm.” He offered his condolences to the families affected by the protests but failed to mention any investigation into the circumstances surrounding the deaths of the protestors.

The Movement to Defend Democracy called for a national day of mourning on March 12th and for more demonstrations to occur on March 13th. Ida Sawyer told Human Rights Watch that “instead of cracking down on peaceful protesters, the authorities should work to address their concerns, including by advancing democratic governance and the rule of law and protecting basic economic rights for everyone.”

While it is unclear whether the national internet shortages will continue, it appears evident that the Senegalese citizens do not plan to stop the protests, citing issues including a general deterioration of the economy related to the Covid-19 pandemic, and the increasing lack of jobs for its citizens and youth in particular.

For further information, please see:

Africa Times – At least 4 dead as Senegal’s opposition calls for new protests – 6 Mar. 2021

Amnesty International – Senegal: Restraint needed as country-wide protests planned after eight died last week – 8 Mar. 2021

Human Rights Watch – Senegal: Respect Free Expression, Assembly – 12 Mar. 2021


Disappearance of Ugandan Opposition Party Members Plague the Nation After Recent Presidential Election

By: Alexandra Casey Douglass

Journal of Global Rights and Organizations, Managing Editor of the Journal

KAMPALA, Uganda – Following Uganda’s Presidential election on January 14, 2021, President Yoweri Museveni was announced as the official victor, earning fifty-eight percent of the vote. Museveni took power by force in 1986 and has since been elected six times. Museveni’s opposition Bobi Wine, leader of the National Unity Platform, has challenged the vote as fraudulent and filed a petition with Uganda’s highest court contesting Museveni’s victory.

Bobi Wine addressing the media in Kampala, Ugananda. Photo Courtesy of VOA News.

On February 15, 2021, Wine released a list of over 300 members of the National Unity Platform who have allegedly been abducted by State agents in Uganda. These individuals disappeared before the January election and majority remain missing. National Unity Party members have also reported illegal detentions during and after the election. President Yoweri Museveni has called the abduction reports false and claims that his forces conducted lawful arrests and only “killed a few” people he described as terrorists during the election. Local Ugandan newspapers are dominated with accounts of armed security personnel in unlicensed vans grabbing victims from the streets.

Wine suggested that Museveni was responsible for the abductions Tweeting, “Like all tyrants, he pushed the narrative that all is well, with hundreds of mothers, fathers and siblings in tears over missing loved ones.” United States Ambassador, Natalie E. Brown, cited “deep and continuing concern about the extrajudicial detention of opposition political party members, the reported disappearance of several opposition supporters and continued restrictions” on the work of the National Unity Party.

The National Unity Party petitioned the U.N. Human Rights Office to address these alleged human rights violations and state-inspired abductions. While Wine was in the U.N. Rights office in Kampala presenting his petition against the abduction of his supporters, members of the Ugandan army attacked and beat four journalists who were waiting outside. One reporter said, “We were standing outside the UN offices waiting for Bobi Wine to come out and address us when policemen and soldiers started beating everyone they came across. They beat me several times as I fled.”

In late February, the United Nations called for an investigation into Wine’s allegations as well as an investigation into the Ugandan military’s use of excessive force against journalists covering Wine. The Ugandan military has since sentenced seven soldiers to 90 days in jail for their actions in that attack. That said, little has been done to address the mass abductions of National Unity Party members leaving hundreds of Ugandan families reeling.

For further information, please see:

ABC News – Uganda’s Bobi Wine arrested while protesting in the capital – 15 Mar. 2021

Anadolu Agency – Uganda: Police clobber 4 journalists, 3 lawmakers – 17 Feb. 2021

New York Times – The West’s Patience With Uganda’s Strongman Wanes After a Bloody Election – 4 Feb. 2021

Reuters – Uganda military sentences soldiers up to three months in jail over journalist assault – 18 Feb. 2021

U.S. News – Allegations of Abductions Grip Uganda After Tense Elections – 15 Feb. 2021

U.S. News – UN Urges Uganda to Probe Reporters’ Beating at Rights Office – 17 Feb. 2021

VOA news – Uganda Opposition Part Petitions UN Human Rights Office Over Violations – 17 Feb. 2021