afrol News, 13 October - Suspected war criminal Bosco Ntaganda, wanted internationally since 2006, is "walking freely" in the eastern Congolese (DRC) town of Goma, which is controlled by UN peacekeepers and government troops.
Mr Ntaganda, a Congolese army general sought on an arrest warrant from the International Criminal Court (ICC) since 2006, is accused of the systematic use of child soldiers as he was one of the senior rebel leaders terrorising the Ituri district of Congo Kinshasa (DRC) in the years after 2000.
For the last years, the infamous rebel has built himself a new power base in the Kivu districts of eastern Congo. Since January 2010, Mr Ntaganda has been implicated in the assassination of at least eight people in addition to arbitrary arrests and abductions. Some of these incidents occurred in eastern Congo, others in neighbouring Rwanda.
Last week, the British news agency 'Reuters' was able to contact Mr Ntaganda in an open environment in the Kivu town of Goma, where the indicted war criminal "lives and moves about openly."
The US-based group Human Rights Watch reacted with shock. The group today demanded the "immediate arrest" of Mr Ntaganda by the Congolese government or its troops to prevent him from broadening his power base. Goma is mostly in the firm hands of the Congolese army (FARDC) and the UN peacekeeping mission MONUC.
According to Human Rights Watch, Mr Ntaganda still actively is threatening people "whom he perceives as opposing him." Most of those targeted by Mr Ntaganda are relatives or supporters of rebel leader Laurent Nkunda, whom
Mr Ntaganda ousted from the leadership of the National Congress for the Defence of the People (CNDP) rebels in 2009.
Despite well documented evidence of his abuses, the Congolese government has not acted to arrest Mr Ntaganda, whom it regards as essential to the "peace process" in eastern Congo. After taking over the leadership of the CNDP, Mr Ntaganda announced that he was ending the rebellion.
Mr Ntaganda since secured a position for himself as a general in Congo's army. Government therefore said it would not execute the ICC arrest warrant against him in the interest of maintaining peace, contending that Mr Ntaganda is needed to keep the former CNDP troops integrated in the Congolese army.
Human rights activists deeply disagree with the Congolese army's position. "Mr Ntaganda should be arrested and made to answer for his crimes, rather than being allowed to walk freely in Goma," said Anneke Van Woudenberg of Human Rights Watch.
"He is a threat to the people of eastern Congo and is making a mockery of the Congolese government's policy of zero tolerance for human rights abuses," she added.
"President Kabila claims that Ntaganda is necessary for the peace process, but Ntaganda's brutal targeting of opponents and blatant disregard for Congolese law and basic human rights is no way to achieve peace," the human rights activist concluded.
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