Home | News    Thursday 15 March 2012

UN special envoy welcomes ICC verdict on Congolese warlord

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By Julius N. Uma

March 14, 2012 (JUBA) — The United Nations Special Representative to the
Secretary General (SRSG) on Children and Armed Conflict on Wednesday
lauded the verdict of the International Criminal Court (ICC), which
found Thomas Lubanga, a Congolese warlord guilty of various war
crimes.

JPEG - 27.1 kb
Congolese warlord Thomas Lubanga sits in the courtroom of the International Criminal Court in The Hague August 25, 2011. (Reuters)

“Today, impunity ends for Thomas Lubanga and those who recruit and
use children in armed conflict,” said Radhika Coomaraswamy.

The Hague-based ICC reportedly found Lubanga guilty for the war crime
of conscripting and enlisting children under the age of 15 into the
Forces patriotiques pour la liberation du Congo (FPLC).

“In this age of global media, today’s verdict will reach warlords and
commanders across the world and serve as a strong deterrent,” added
Coomaraswamy, who is currently in South Sudan.

Hundreds of children were reportedly recruited and trained to kill,
plunder, and rape by Lubanga and his men during the Ituri conflict in
the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) between 2002 and 2003.

The recruitment of children under the age of 15, under the Rome
Statute of the ICC, constitutes a war crime.

“While Lubanga’s victims have had their childhood forever stolen, I am
hopeful that with the justice done today, they will be able to move on
with their lives,” said the SRSG, adding that she hopes the world
court will provide reparations to the victims and their communities to
acknowledge the harm suffered and as a restoration of their rights.

In 2008, SRSG Coomaraswamy was called as an expert witness to the
Hague-based court, where she underlined that the involvement in armed
conflict must take into account children serving in support roles
during combat such as spies, messengers, porters, scouts, and cooks.

While at the ICC, she reportedly also highlighted that girls often
experience sexual slavery, repeated rapes, forced marriages, and
forced pregnancies which should be recognized as active participation.

However, the judgment, according to Coomaraswamy, is part of a larger
international effort to end impunity for violators of children’s
rights in conflict and to bring perpetrators to justice, especially
those with command responsibility.

“I hope that all crimes committed against children in conflict will
be duly prosecuted, including by Member States who bear the primary
responsibility to bring perpetrators to justice,” she said.

Coomaraswamy is currently in South Sudan to witness the signing of a
revised action plan, which advocates for the release of children
associated with the Sudanese People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) and the
allied militias.

Reacting on same ruling, Anthony Lake, the Executive Director for the
UN Children Fund (UNICEF) said, “This is a pivotal victory for the
protection of children in conflict.

“The conviction of Thomas Lubanga by the International Criminal Court
sends a clear message to all armed groups that enslave and brutalize
children: Impunity will not be tolerated,"he added.

UNICEF has been working intensively in several countries, including in
the DRC, to help children caught up in conflict – building education
and skills training in communities and especially women and girls.

Since 2005, it says, at least 35,000 children have been released or
escaped from armed forces or armed groups in the DRC alone and have
received support from UNICEF and partners to reintegrate into their
communities and families.

With tens of thousands of children reportedly victims of these grave
violations in at least 15 armed conflicts around the world, UNICEF
pledges to continue efforts to rescue these children and rehabilitate
them.

(ST)

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  • 16 March 2012 13:06, by Emporio

    they bring war to Africa and they still try them in what they think is justice court, and try to make whole world believe is legitimate for real justice but serve their own agenda Africa is ground experiment of western world,can someone justify the modern colonialism, i don’t know when Africa ganna get up and stand by it own

    repondre message

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