Yesterday I experienced the most challenging and difficult time during my abroad experience. I attended the status hearing of suspected Congolese war criminal Bosco Ntaganda at the International Criminal Court in The Hague (Den Haag). Bosco Ntaganda is facing charges of 13 counts of war crime that include: murder, attempted murder; attacking civilians, rape; sexual slavery of civilians; pillaging; displacement of civilians; attacking protected objects; destroying the enemy’s property; and rape, sexual slavery, enlistment and conscription of child soldiers under the age of fifteen years (and using them to participate actively in hostilities) and 5 counts of crimes against humanity.
Before going to the actual status hearing we went through security, watched a film and presentation. After asking questions we went to the status hearing where we sat in front of the entire court. I was not expecting to be sitting across from a man who has committed these heartless crimes. The judges sat directly across from us, below them the legal chambers were present, to the right of us were the legal representatives of victims and the prosecution, and to the left of us were the defense, registry, and Bosco.
At one point in time he finally lifted his head during the status hearing and I looked into his eyes. His eyes were empty. I saw no one behind his eyes. Therefore, no matter what happens, found guilty or not guilty, no punishment will ever live up to the crimes he committed. There will never be an amount of time or revenge that will serve justice to the victims and their families. This is what made the court case difficult for me because I could not stop thinking about the people who have been affected by his actions. Toward the end one legal representative of the victims read quotes from the victims and their families, in which I was saw no emotional reaction from Bosco. During the reading my heart pounded and ached for the victims and their families. I am not sure what causes so much hatred or reasoning that justifies his courses of action. In the end his court case is pushed back an additional week upon prosecution’s request due to the need for additional translations. This court case definitely made me rethink what justice truly means.
Thank you for reading,