International Justice Monitor

A project of the Open Society Justice Initiative

Lubanga Guilty of Use of Child Soldiers

Today, International Criminal Court (ICC) judges in The Hague delivered the Court’s first verdict—a finding of guilt against former Congolese warlord Thomas Lubanga.

Prosecutors accused Lubanga of the war crimes of conscripting, enlisting, and using children under the age of 15 years for combat purposes while he served as political head of the Union of Congolese Patriots (UPC) rebel group in the Ituri region of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Lubanga denied all allegations against him, insisting that he gave orders for children not to be involved in combat and that prosecutors had influenced witnesses to lie against him.

The ICC judges ruled that the prosecution proved beyond reasonable doubt that Lubanga is guilty of the crimes charged. Judge Adrian Fulford, Presiding Judge of the Trial Chamber, in delivering the verdict said that there was reasonable evidence to believe that Lubanga was involved in a recruitment drive for his UPC rebel group and that such drive included conscripting children and using them for combat purposes. The judges also found that Lubanga personally used children as his bodyguards.

The judges agreed with the defense on allegations that the prosecution had delegated its investigations to local intermediaries in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and that these intermediaries manipulated and influenced some witnesses to lie against Lubanga. The evidence of these prosecution witnesses were in doubt and were therefore disregarded by the judges. On the strength of other prosecution evidence, including a video footage of Lubanga addressing children at a UPC training camp, the judges found that Lubanga is guilty of the charges against him.

James A. Goldston, executive director of the Open Society Justice Initiative, has welcomed the delivery of the Lubanga judgment by the ICC today saying:

“The judgment is an important step forward in the worldwide struggle against impunity for grave crimes. Its pointed criticism of the prosecution’s supervision of ‘intermediaries’ further underscores the need for the Court to reform its investigative procedures and establish clear rules for working with persons other than Court staff to identify and help gather evidence.”

Lubanga will now remain in custody until the judges schedule a separate sentencing hearing during which they will determine the length of jail term that he will serve.

 

10 Comments
  1. True Justice!! now we have faith in the ICC

  2. This is a blow to impunity and a vote of full confidence in the ICC.

  3. Thanks Apha for the piece, and thanks to the ICC. However, Lubanga had accomplices and they are still serving in the Congolese army. Let’s catch them guys !
    Our children must enjoy peaceful coexistence.

  4. Great, but what about Paul Kagame, Museveni, Kabila, Kunda, Bosco Ntanganda? Are there not worse than Thomas. They have killed over 6 millions people according to the UN mapping rapport.
    The only reason they are free because they are still serving the interest of those who created the ICC as a tool of punishing those who go against the system. God will judge you all even if you have managed to lie to the whole world.

  5. he who kill by sword will die by the sword,justice should reign,he wont escape this.

  6. Zing zing is completely right, yes what about kabila(kanambe) and the others who had killed millions of people?women are raped and cut in peaces in DRC and those who have formed ICC are aware of this, what have done about this??? Is thomas worst than Kabila and the others?Congolese people have criedand still crying to the whole world for genocide in Congo and you keep on ignoring them because of your interest and yet you still speaking about justice,what hypocrisy, yes because of that God will severely juge for that.

  7. Its a lesson to the world’s promoters of impunity that their days are indeed very few.Lets uphold human dignity at all time.

  8. The ICC should have their own investigators and not relay on the self imposed groups by the name human rights. the verdict is welcome, but why should th ICC have their own arresting officers in all the member countries? What of Felister kabuga of Ruanda?

  9. It’s not so simple to arrest such people like Kagame, believe me guys

  10. Why not are they gods? You know Africans leaders do not learn
    From history. The system did not change. They place you in power, they support you while you are helping them to steal from your continent and kill your own people and then they show the world you are evil and kill you and take your money. You leave behind you a bad legacy, no money for your family and you will burn in hell for the crimes you did. They will replace you by another one and continue the same game. Let me give you few names of people they created, Saddam, Mobutu, Abacha, Savimbi, etc… Please African leaders learn to say no, because you will soon join my above list. You think they love you? Ask Mobutu and become wise.