News / Africa

ICC Sentences Congolese Warlord to 14 Years in Prison

Congolese warlord Thomas Lubanga awaits his sentence in the courtroom of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, July 10, 2012.
Congolese warlord Thomas Lubanga awaits his sentence in the courtroom of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, July 10, 2012.
Lisa Bryant
PARIS — In its first sentencing, the Hague-based International Criminal Court (ICC) handed a 14-year prison term to former warlord Thomas Lubanga for recruiting and using child soldiers in the Democratic Republic of Congo.  It's unclear whether Lubanga will appeal.

Rights groups cheered the Lubanga' sentencing, even though the jail term was far less than the 30 years prosecutors had requested. 

"The trial and the sentence has sent a very strong message about the seriousness of the crime of recruiting children and using them in war," said Human Rights Watch's (HRW) senior researcher Anneke van Woudenberg.

Reading out the sentence, presiding International Criminal Court Judge Adrian Fulford gave Lubanga prison terms of 13, 12 and 14 years respectively for conscripting, enlisting and using child soldiers. Those sentences will be served concurrently, with an overall sentence of 14 years.  Deducted from that term will be time Lubanga spent in pre-trial detention since 2006.  

Lubanga worked as a teacher and trader before leading a rebel group in Congo's gold-rich eastern Ituri province.  In March, the Hague court found him guilty of recruiting boys and girls under 15 years old and using them in war.  In his sentencing, Judge Fulford underscored the seriousness of the crime.

"The vulnerability of children mean that they need to be afforded particular protection that does not apply to the general population," said the judge. "The principal historical objective underlying the prohibition against the use of child soldiers is to protect children under the age of 15 of the risks that are associated with armed conflict.  And particularly they are directed at securing their physical and psychological well being."

Judge Fulford also harshly criticized the prosecution's handling of the case.  Among other shortcomings, he said, it failed to prove sexual crimes were committed or that Lubanga had been involved in them.

Human Rights Watch's van Woudenberg also expressed disappointment in the prosecution.

"I do think the prosecutor should have brought additional charges against Lubanga.  His group did not just recruit child soldiers and use them in hostilities, but they also carried out widespread massacres, torture and rape," said van Woudenberg.

Lubanga's is the first sentence delivered by the 10-year-old criminal court.  Two other Congolese militia leaders, who fought against Lubanga, face trial on similar charges.  HRW's Van Woudenberg said Lubanga's sentence shines a spotlight on yet another militia leader, Bosco Ntaganda, who is also accused of recruiting child soldiers in the Ituri region.  The ICC has a warrant out for his arrest.

Photo Gallery of Child Soldiers
  • Experts estimate between 7,000 and 10,000 child soldiers operate in Chad in the national army, rebel and militia groups. Globally, the U.N. Children's Fund UNICEF believes there are some 250,000 child soldiers.
  • Seven child fighters are seen at a Save the Children compound in Bunia, Congo, June, 2003, after they left a militia army. Some 50 percent of tribal fighters in Ituri are children aged less than 18 years of age.
  • A young Sudan People's Liberation Army child soldier holds a gun during the demobilization of soldiers at Rumbek, southern Sudan.
  • African countries where the United Nations says armed groups have persistantly used child soldiers in the last five years.
  • A Save the Children report counted 33 armed conflicts, many of them civil wars, where children have been fighting. Save the Children is promoting a U.N. pact that would raise the minimum recruitment age to 17.
  • A Chadian army child soldier is seen in Am Timan, Chad. Chad pledged in May of 2007 to work to demobilize hundreds of child soldiers fighting in the ranks of the government army and rebel groups across conflict-torn central Africa.
  • Child soldiers take a rest as they wait for instructions in an ethnic Hema militia camp near Bunia in the Democratic Republic of Congo, June, 2003.

You May Like

Video Indiana Controversy Points to Divergent Notions of Religious Freedom

Gay-marriage opponents are looking for ways to maintain their beliefs in face of changing culture, one writer says More

UNICEF Denies North Korean Measles Outbreak

Agency dismisses Russian media report after government, WHO assurances More

Turkey Seen Taking Harder Stance Against Militant Kurds

Stance comes as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is being seen as moving closer to generals More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Winsor from: Florida
July 10, 2012 4:46 PM
I hope other warlord learn from the verdict that the behavior will not be tolerated. You just simple can't use children as human shield; you just can't do that...!
In Response

by: Aaron Chaney from: US
July 30, 2012 12:02 PM
To whom it may concern,

as a concerned citizen of the world and watcher thereof of world events, let it be duly noted that forthwith a continuous message emanates from certain spokesmen from governments throughout the middle east region whereby they have spoken openly of arming specific individuals and as well groups so marked and identified as terrorists by the Syrian government.

Be forewarned that this constitutes a breach of international law which you are bound to uphold in your delegated capacity and a lack to act in accordance with your apparent description as a judicial international law enforcement entity will undermine and bring into question the legitimacy of your organization.

The primary quarters from whence these parties have made statements that are geared towards the arming of terrorists and overthrow of a democratically elected government are to wit: Qatar, Turkey and Saudi Arabia.

To finalize, let the historical record reflect that you have NOW been officially informed and will be henceforth monitored to determine whether your ICC organization is worthy to perform your continued duties or whether you should be subsequently disavowed as an internationally recognized body.

Aaron Chaney.

by: MichaelFromSeattle from: Hermosillo, Mexico
July 10, 2012 1:50 PM
Conscripting children into military service is, in my opinion, a grave crime. However I cannot bring myself to blanketly condemn their being utilized as volunteer soldiers, recognizing that they may have very valid reasons for wanting to enlist.

by: Anonymous
July 10, 2012 1:49 PM
racism

by: Harold from: Washington
July 10, 2012 1:48 PM
gee they can go after african "warlords" but they can't protect kids in the united states from being sold as sex slaves to the reagan and bush administration ....hmmmm

by: Vahid Tarzan from: California
July 10, 2012 1:29 PM
Time served.

by: Art Stone from: United States
July 10, 2012 1:20 PM
So this 10 year old "global" court set up in the very heart of Western Europe to fight "crimes against humanity" has as its only "conviction" a black African "war lord" who has been sitting in jail for 6 years awaiting his trial.

Racism?
In Response

by: anne.white from: Canada
July 10, 2012 1:41 PM
And your point is? This is not racism. Waiting for 6 years may be punitive, but how long had Milosevic been waiting? This has nothing to do with race. It's about disgusting child abuse. Hopefully more prosecutions will be coming. Please, please, stop playing the race card. It doesn't help your cause. Whoever uses children to further their ends should be prosecuted. In Africa at present, most folks are black so they are the ones who are arrested. In Europe the war crimes are done by white people and they too are prosecuted. So once again -your point is...?

by: ogre12 from: world
July 10, 2012 1:16 PM
this man is an evil monster as far as I am concerned..but ultimately it is between him and Christ. My bet is on Jesus.

by: nemo
July 10, 2012 12:53 PM
The new world order now has teeth and can punish legally instead of covertly. You think this good? And who will punish them?
In Response

by: Brock MacLean from: Vancouver Canada
July 10, 2012 2:19 PM
Another kook about the New world order....at least this jerk will do some time...not enough and certainly too late...but its a start.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedomi
X
Jerome Socolovsky
April 01, 2015 1:41 AM
Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedom

Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Nigerians Welcome Buhari's Return to Power

Crowds of jubilant Nigerians nationwide have celebrated the return to power of former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari. The retired army general won this year's presidential election with more than 2 million votes more than incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan. Buhari's supporters hope he can strengthen the country's economy and security once he takes office in late May. Zlatica Hoke has this story.
Video

Video Report: State of Black America a 'Tale of Two Nations'

The National Urban League has described this year's "State of Black America" report as a "tale of two nations." The group's annual report, released earlier this month (March), found that under an equality index African Americans had only 72% parity compared to whites in areas such as education, economics, health, social justice and civic engagement. It’s a gap that educators and students at Brooklyn’s Medgar Evers College are looking to close. VOA's Daniela Schrier reports from the school.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Gamma Ray Observatory to Open Soon in Mexico

American and Mexican scientists have completed construction of the world's largest gamma ray observatory, situated high in central Mexico’s Sierra Negra Mountain. The observatory's huge array of water-based detectors will soon start discovering secrets about black holes and supernovas. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials Underway in West Africa

Ebola has claimed the lives of more than 10,000 people in West Africa. Since last summer, researchers have rushed to get anti-Ebola vaccines into clinical trials. While it's too early to say that any of the potential vaccines work, some scientists say they are seeing strong results from some of the studies. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More