Concluding its first-ever trial, a panel of judges at the International Criminal Court issues a verdict in the case of Thomas Lubanga, finding him guilty of recruiting child soldiers. Lubanga, a Congolese warlord, was found guilty of recruiting, training, and using child soldiers in conflict. His deputy, Bosco Ntaganda, also faces similar charges at the ICC, however, he remains un-apprehended as a general in the Congolese Army, or FARDC.To provide context behind the events surrounding Ntaganda’s recent defection, the Enough Project has produced a new timeline chronicling the major occurrences since the conviction of Ntaganda’s former commander, Thomas Lubanga, by the ICC for three counts of war crimes. The timeline details the actions of Ntaganda, as well as the other defections, troop movements, diplomatic efforts, international involvement and clashes between the mutinous soldiers and the Congolese Army.
WASHINGTON – The Enough Project commends Maryland for passing a law to curb the global trade in conflict minerals from eastern Congo which fuel ongoing mass atrocities there.
Maryland governor Martin O’Malley signed the bill into law Thursday. The law requires Maryland to not do business with companies that fail to comply with the federal law on conflict minerals, passed in 2010 as part of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Act. A provision in this federal financial reform legislation requires companies to disclose whether they source minerals from DR Congo or its neighbors and to exercise due diligence on their supply chains to determine if their products are not fueling deadly conflict in the central African country.
The state law adds a powerful incentive for companies to comply with federal law by denying them procurement contracts with the state of Maryland. The bill was introduced by Delegate Shane Robinson.
"This law shows that Maryland cares about the conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo and that we have a responsibility to do business with companies that value the social consequences of their decisions," Robinson said. "Hopefully, more state legislatures will pass similar laws that send a message that corporations must be held accountable for social, economic, and environmental impacts at home and abroad in order to earn state contracts."
Tin, tungsten, tantalum and gold, all minerals found in consumer electronics, are mined in eastern Congo, where a decade-and-a-half of conflict has resulted in more than 5 million deaths. Armed groups that commit mass rapes and other atrocities make millions of dollars from the minerals trade and control most of the mining operations in a mafia-like cartel.
"The continuous passage of State level legislation in the U.S. shows a growing commitment from consumers and lawmakers to demand that our elected officials and corporate citizens be held responsible for the global impact of investment and supply chain management," said Aaron Hall, Enough Project associate director of research. "Nowhere is this more important than in Eastern Congo, where this demand is manifesting itself in the creation of a reformed mineral sector that will support community and economic growth and decrease violent conflict driven by the trade of conflict minerals."
The Maryland legislation is the second state to deal with Congo conflict minerals after California passed a similar law last year. Similar legislation is also under consideration in Massachusetts. Dozens of college campuses and local governments have passed resolutions pledging to buy only conflict-free products. In June 2010, Stanford University became the first campus in the nation to adopt a policy combating the trade in conflict minerals from Congo.
On our second trip together to Africa last Thanksgiving, we decided to go to the place where the deadliest war in the world was occurring: the Congo. The entire time we were there, we traveled with an extraordinary Congolese guy named Fidel Bafilemba. His video profile is the first in a new video series being launched by the Enough Project, called “I Am Congo.” Read More »
The Massachusetts-based Congo Action Now group recently claimed some early success in their efforts to usher a new law through the Massachusetts legislature that would bolster the pending federal law on the use of conflict minerals from Congo. Activist and guest blogger Pat Aron writes about their initiative. Read More »
The Obama administration announced last Thursday that it will support a critical missing link in the fight against conflict minerals: independent monitoring. This is a major step in the long fight against the illegal trade in conflict minerals. Read More »
Student leaders Henry Dambanemuya and Ellie Hamrick recently spearheaded a conflict minerals event and workshop during a summit in Indiana focused on prevention of genocide and mass atrocities. In this guest post, they wrote about how Congo advocacy is taking off on campuses across the state. Read More »
WASHINGTON – Bosco Ntaganda, the Congolese warlord wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes, lived for years in a comfortable villa in Goma, rubbing elbows with humanitarian workers, Congolese security officials, and in plain view of United Nations peacekeeping mission. Despite his war criminal status, he has remained able to consolidate power and move freely throughout the region with total impunity while amassing a fortune from exploitation of the region’s illicit minerals trade according to a new Enough Project fact sheet that sheds light on the recently defected former general.
Ntaganda, a Congolese Tutsi with links to the government of Rwanda, fought for years with various rebel groups in both Rwanda and Congo before taking over the Rwandan-backed rebel group the CNDP in 2009. At that point Ntaganda’s forces were integrated into the Congolese army in a still opaque peace deal between Rwanda and Congo. Since then he has continued a campaign of corruption, murder, rape, extortion and intimidation, under the umbrella of the Congolese state security apparatus.
Recently, under still murky circumstances, Ntaganda along with some of his forces defected from the Congolese army and retreated to a stronghold north of Goma. Last week, while visiting Goma, Congolese president Joseph Kabila called for Ntaganda’s arrest, making a break with years of tacit official support for Ntanganda’s crimes.
“Ntaganda has been called both a war criminal and a lynchpin to regional stability,” said the Enough Project paper. “Yet as a member and leader of several armed groups, he has left a bloody trail across the eastern Congo.”