On 15 June 2017, the ICC Appeals Chamber delivered its judgment in the case of the Prosecutor v. Bosco Ntaganda.
Mr. Ntaganda, former alleged Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the Patriotic Force for the Liberation of Congo, is accused of 13 counts of war crimes and 5 counts of crimes against humanity allegedly committed in Ituri, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, between 2002 and 2003. On 4 January 2017, Trial Chamber VI concluded that the Court has jurisdiction over two counts of war crimes, the rape of child soldiers (count 6) and sexual slavery of child soldiers (count 9).
Unsatisfied by this decision, the Defence Counsel appealed the ruling, relying mainly on the argument that the Trial Chamber erred in law as rape and sexual slavery committed against members of the same armed group (child soldiers), cannot be considered as war crimes.
Presiding Judge Sanji Monageng who delivered the appeal judgment stated that the Court considered that no legal error has been identified that would materially affect the Trial Chamber’s conclusion. Indeed, the Appeals Chamber contended that under the established framework of international law, members of an armed group are not categorically excluded from the protection against the war crimes of rape and sexual slavery committed by members of the same armed group. The Court emphasized that the nexus requirement that delineates war crimes from ordinary crimes is the occurrence of the conduct of rape and sexual slavery in the context of an international or non-international armed conflict.
Therefore, the Appeals Chamber confirmed the Court’s jurisdiction over the war crimes of rape and sexual slavery of child soldiers and rejected the Defence’s appeal.
Appeal Judgment Transcript: https://www.icc-cpi.int/CourtRecords/CR2017_03920.PDF
ICC Press Release: https://www.icc-cpi.int/Pages/item.aspx?name=pr1313