International Justice Monitor

A project of the Open Society Justice Initiative

Reconsidering Lubanga’s Sentence: Views from Ituri

The following commentary was written by Olivia Bueno of the International Refugee Rights Initiative (IRRI), in consultation with Congolese activists. The views and opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of IRRI or of the Open Society Justice Initiative.

On August 21, 2015, the International Criminal Court (ICC) heard arguments about whether or not to release Thomas Lubanga, the first person to be convicted by the court. As required under Article 110 of the Rome Statute, the ICC will review Lubanga’s sentence now that two-thirds of it has been served. The prospect of Lubanga’s release has been met with reactions ranging from despair and frustration to satisfaction, depending on who you ask.

As this is the first hearing … Continue Reading

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Lubanga Pleads With ICC Judges for Early Release

Convicted Congolese political leader Thomas Lubanga has pleaded with International Criminal Court (ICC) judges to grant him early release, promising to promote reconciliation and announcing plans to do doctoral studies into the psycho-sociological determinants of conflicts in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

Mr. Lubanga made the appeal before a panel of judges that will determine whether his 14-year prison sentence can be reduced. He states that throughout the 12 years he has been in detention, first in the DRC and then at the ICC, his thoughts have been with the people of the Ituri district, with whom he said he endured a painful history, beginning with a massacre in 1999.

“I offer my sincere apologies for all victims for the … Continue Reading

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Judge Fernández to Stay on Lubanga ICC Sentence Review Panel

The Presidency of the International Criminal Court (ICC) has dismissed a defense application for the disqualification of Judge Silvia Fernández de Gurmendi from presiding over the upcoming review of Thomas Lubanga’s the prison sentence. The majority of a 15-judge plenary found that the functions Judge Fernández earlier performed in the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) were “irrelevant” to the proceedings to determine whether Mr. Lubanga’s 14-year jail sentence should be reduced.

In an August 3, 2015 decision, the judges determined that the functions performed by Judge Fernández when she was employed by the OTP appeared to have been strategic, high-level, and “relatively removed” from the details of the case against Mr. Lubanga. “There might be circumstances where Judge Fernández’s prior functions … Continue Reading

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Will ICC Judges Grant Lubanga Early Release?

On August 21, 2015, the International Criminal Court (ICC) will hear arguments about whether to grant Thomas Lubanga early release from imprisonment. In March 2012, Trial Chamber judges found Lubanga guilty of the enlistment, conscription, and use of children under the age of 15 for combat purposes during the conflict in the Ituri region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). He was sentenced to a total of 14 years of imprisonment. Both his conviction and sentence were upheld on appeal in December 2014.

A three-judge panel of the Appeals Chamber will decide whether Lubanga must serve his full sentence or if he can return to DRC after completing two-thirds of his sentence. Lubanga, the former leader of the Union … Continue Reading

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Lubanga Sentence Review Postponed to August

The hearing to determine whether Thomas Lubanga’s 14-year prison sentence can be reduced will not be conducted tomorrow as had earlier been scheduled. It will instead be held on Friday, August 21, at 9:30 AM local time in The Hague.

According to a July 8 rescheduling order, the postponement is to allow the presidency of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to consider an application by defense lawyers for the disqualification of Judge Silvia Fernández de Gurmendi from the Appeals Chamber handling the review. A plenary session of judges was scheduled to convene today to consider the defense application,

As of tomorrow, Mr. Lubanga will have served two-thirds of the prison sentence handed him in March 2012.  At the time of sentencing, he … Continue Reading

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Lawyers Want Presiding Judge Off Lubanga Sentence Review

Thomas Lubanga’s lawyers have sought the disqualification of Judge Silvia Fernández de Gurmendi from presiding over the upcoming review of the prison sentence imposed on Mr. Lubanga by the International Criminal Court (ICC) due to “circumstances which manifestly cast doubt on her impartiality.” However, the prosecution requests that the defense application be dismissed because “a reasonable and well-informed observer” would not apprehend bias by the judge.

In a June 29, 2015 application to the court’s Presidency, defense lawyer Catherine Mabille stated that Judge Fernández was the Chef de Cabinet to former ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo during the period between the application for a warrant of arrest against Mr. Lubanga and the confirmation of charges hearing. At the time, the judge was … Continue Reading

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ICC Judges to Consider Reducing Lubanga’s Jail Term

Next month, judges at the International Criminal Court (ICC) will conduct a review to determine whether to reduce the 14-year prison sentence handed down to Thomas Lubanga for using child soldiers in armed conflict.

The review is pursuant to Article 110(3) of the court’s Rome Statute, which provides that when a convicted person has served two thirds of their sentence, the court “shall review the sentence to determine whether it should be reduced.”

In March 2012, Trial Chamber I convicted Mr. Lubanga of recruiting and conscripting children under the age of 15 years and actively using them in an armed conflict in the Ituri region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo during 2002 and 2003.

Judges sentenced the former leader of the … Continue Reading

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Appeals Chamber Decision on Reparations in the Lubanga Case

Dear Readers,

The following commentary first ran in a Special Issue of Legal Eye on the ICC, a regular eLetter produced by the Women’s Initiatives for Gender Justice, an international women’s human rights organization that advocates for gender justice through the International Criminal Court (ICC) and works with women most affected by the conflict situations under investigation by the ICC. The views and opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the Open Society Justice Initiative. To read the full version of the Legal Eye eLetter, click here.

On March 3, 2015, the Appeals Chamber,[i] Judge Anita Ušacka dissenting,[ii] issued its first Judgment on reparations in the Lubanga case (Appeals Chamber Reparations Judgment or Judgment).[iii] The Judgment follows … Continue Reading

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ICC Appeals Chamber Issues Its First Judgment on Reparations

On March 3, 2015, the Appeals Chamber at the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued its first-ever judgment on reparations. Trial Chamber I had issued its decision establishing the principles and procedures to be applied to reparations in the case against Thomas Lubanga in August 2012. Both the defense and the victims had appealed the trial chamber decision.

In March 2012, Lubanga became to first person to be convicted by the ICC for the enlistment, conscription, and use of child soldiers under the age of fifteen years to participate actively in hostilities. The crimes occurred in 2002 and 2003 in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. Lubanga was sentenced to a total of 14 years of imprisonment, and both his conviction and … Continue Reading

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Voices from the Ground: Reactions to Final Lubanga Judgment

The below transcript is from a program on Radio Canal Revelation, a radio station based in Bunia, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The program is part of the radio station’s Interactive Radio for Justice and Peace Project, which promotes discussion on critical issues around justice in DRC. Following the December 1, 2014 appeals judgment of Thomas Lubanga upholding his conviction and sentence, the program hosted a call-in show to get reactions from listeners about the judgment. This transcript has been edited to remove non-relevant information.

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Presenter (Didyne Uweka):  Welcome dear listeners, you’re following us from around the world. Today, we are going to present a special program that is part of the Interactive Radio for Justice and Peace Project.

On December … Continue Reading

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