Gender-based crimes: A monumental day for the ICC

When it comes to prosecuting sexual and gender-based crimes, there have been few days as significant as today in the ICC’s twenty-one-year long history. The day began with a conviction for sexual violence crimes against male and female victims in the Ntaganda case, followed by the first attempt in any international criminal court or tribunal to prosecute gender-based persecution.

Rosemary Grey (University of Sydney) and Indira Rosenthal (University of Tasmania)[1]

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Ntaganda surrenders in Rwanda


Photo credit: Al Jazeera

The BBC is reporting that Bosco Ntaganda, founder of the ‘March 23 Movement’ and suspect before the International Criminal Court, has handed himself in to the US Embassy in Kigali.

A warrant of arrest was issued against Ntaganda in 2006, alleging that he had recruited child soldiers into the Patriotic Forces for the Liberation of the Congo (FPLC) in the DRC’s North Kivu province. Last summer, a second warrant of arrest was issued, on charges of muder, rape, persecution, pillage and attacks against civilians. If the charges of rape and sexual violence as war crimes and crimes against humanity were confirmed against Ntaganda and successfully prosecuted, it would do something for the ICC’s less than perfect record on successful prosecution of these crimes to date.

Neither Rwanda nor the United States is party to the Rome Statute, so there is no positive obligation on either state to hand the accused over to the ICC. But this news is undoubtedly welcome to the ICC Prosecutor, who has been criticised in the wake of her dropping the charges against suspect Muthaura in the Kenya situation last week.

UPDATE: Since writing, the U.S. state department has confirmed that Ntaganda is present at their Embassy and has asked to be transferred to the ICC, and is said to be

consulting with a number of governments, including the Rwandan government, in order to facilitate his request.

Thanks to Diane Marie Amann for additional information.