By Justice Hub
The International Criminal Court will on Monday issue its first ever appeals verdict, against former Congolese militia commander Thomas Lubanga who was jailed for 14 years in 2012 for using child soldiers in his rebel army.
1. His full name is Thomas Lubanga Dyilo. He’s the first person to be put on trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC). And his trial will be the first to be completed.
2. Thomas Lubanga is the former president of the Union of Congolese Patriots (UPC), a rebel group in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) which took part in the conflict there from 2001 to 2004.
3. It’s the only trial at the ICC so far that is solely about child soldiers. Lubanga was tried and convicted of the war crimes of enlisting and conscripting children under the age of 15 into the UPC rebel group and using them to participate actively in hostilities.
4. In March 2012 judges at the ICC found Lubanga guilty of the crimes charged and sentenced him to 14 years in prison. In the verdict, they said that there was reasonable evidence to believe that Lubanga was involved in a recruitment drive for his UPC rebel group and that this drive included conscripting children and using them for combat purposes. The judges also found that Lubanga personally used children as his bodyguards.
5. But the judges agreed with the defence that the prosecution had delegated its investigations to local intermediaries in the DRC and that these intermediaries manipulated and influenced some witnesses to lie against Lubanga. The evidence provided by these prosecution witnesses was ignored by the judges.
6. On the strength of other prosecution evidence, including video footage of Lubanga addressing children at a UPC training camp, the judges found that Lubanga is guilty of the charges against him.
7. Today (December 1st) the appeals judges decide whether to stick with the fourteen years or not. Their decision is final. The prosecution had previously asked for 30 years and says this sentence is “manifestly inadequate and disproportionate to the gravity of the crime”. The defence has said the original judges made some mistakes, including relying on incorrect evidence that some children in the videos were under 15.
8. It’s not known where Lubanga would serve his sentence if the appeals judges agree that he’s guilty. In the sentencing, the trial judges deducted the time Lubanga had already spent in detention since his arrest in March 2006, which reduced his remaining time in prison from fourteen to eight years. The Detention Unit in Scheveningen, the Netherlands, where he’s been held up to now is not meant for those sentenced.
Read about the appeals judges’ ruling.
Source: Open Society Foundation