Thomas Lubanga captured and forcibly conscripted a young boy, a child protection specialist told defense lawyers on Monday.
Witness Christine Peduto, who worked for the United Nations Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC), said that she had interviewed the boy in question. He told her that in February 2003, Lubanga and six soldiers kidnapped him while he walked along a road in the northern Ituri town of Mongbwalu.
Continuing her testimony from last week, Peduto told Jean-Marie Biju-Duval, one of Lubanga’s lawyers, that she did not carry out any specific investigation into the incident.
“I would say at that point the documentation [we did] was not [intended] to be used in testimony before the International Criminal Court,” said Peduto. “What was important was to hear from the children. In hindsight, we should have sought more information.”
At the time, she said, MONUC was most concerned with hearing how the children had been conscripted and what happened to them as soldiers. Peduto said they did not conduct interviews in order to obtain specific information about members of Lubanga’s militia, the Union of Congolese Patriots (UPC).
The child in question, said Peduto, had attended school and came from a family of government army soldiers.
“Nothing he told me caused me to question his credibility,” she said, adding that all the children she interviewed told their stories freely and without prompting.
“If I were to suggest to you that Thomas Lubanga was never in Mongbwalu in February 2003, would that lead you to re-examine your position as regards the credibility of the narrative?” asked Biju-Duval.
“The narrative was not subject to a specific investigation,” Peduto responded. “When [the child] said February 2003, it could have been late January or early March.”
After Peduto concluded her testimony, a protected witness began testifying in closed session. The prosecution is scheduled to rest its case on Tuesday.
Given the fact that many testimonies so far in the proceedings have related the special circumstances of girl soldiers during 2002 and 2003, should Lubanga also have been charged for committing sexual crimes? If yes/no, why?
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