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Chapter 5: The Effects of the Lubanga Case on Understanding and Preventing Child Soldiering

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 December 2013

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On March 14, 2012, ICC Trial Chamber I issued its judgment convicting Thomas Lubanga Dyilo, a rebel leader in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Lubanga was found guilty, as a co-perpetrator, of the war crimes of conscripting and enlisting children under the age of fifteen years and using them to participate actively in hostilities from early September 2002 to August 13, 2003, in a non-international conflict in the DRC's Ituri region. Lubanga was charged exclusively with child-soldier-related crimes. He had served as President of the Union des patriotes congolais (UPC) and Commander-in-Chief of the Forces patriotiques pour la libération du Congo (FPLC), the entities into which he had unlawfully conscripted, used, and enlisted children. His lengthy trial was punctuated with due process concerns regarding the disclosure of evidence, confidentiality agreements, the Office of the Prosecutor's (OTP) delegation of investigative responsibilities to intermediaries, and the reliability of witness testimony. A stay of proceedings had twice been ordered.

On July 10, 2012, ICC Trial Chamber I sentenced Lubanga—the ICC's first convict—to a prison term of fourteen years. It deducted the six years that Lubanga had already spent in detention (his surrender to the ICC occurred on March 16, 2006) from the sentence. In dissent, Judge Odio Benito would have marginally increased the sentence by one year, to fifteen years. According to the Rome Statute and the Rules of Procedure and Evidence, Lubanga will be eligible for a sentence reduction, contingent upon his deportment as a prisoner, once he serves two-thirds of the term (namely, mid-2015).

Part II: Child Soldiers and the Lubanga case
Copyright © T.M.C. Asser Instituut and the Authors 2012 

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