By Noah Otieno, Senior Reporter KTN
Congolese warlord Thomas Lubanga Dyilo has been handed 14 years by the International Criminal Court for recruiting child soldiers below 15 years, and forcing them to fight jungle war in the Ituri region of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Lubanga was found guilty on March 14 this year for abducting boys and girls to fight in the war that saw some 60,000 people killed in the five years ending in 2003. The atrocities were committed between 1st of September 2002 to 13th August 2003.
The 51 year-old Lubanga, according to the Judges, will have the six years he has spent in detention deducted from his sentence. Both his conviction and his sentencing are the first ever in the history of the International Criminal Court.
A statement sent from ICC today, said the Chamber, composed of Judge Adrian Fulford, Judge Elizabeth Odio Benito and Judge René Blattmann, also ordered that the time from Mr Lubanga’s surrender to the ICC on 16 March 2006 until today should be deducted from this sentence.
The Presiding Judge, Adrian Fulford, delivered a summary of the Trial Chamber’s decision during an open hearing held today.
He explained that the Chamber considered the gravity of the crimes in the circumstances of this case, with regard, inter alia, to the extent of the damage caused, and in particular “the harm caused to the victims and their families, the nature of the unlawful behaviour and the means employed to execute the crime; the degree of participation of the convicted person; the degree of intent; the circumstances of manner, time and location; and the age, education, social and economic condition of the convicted person”.
The judge highlighted the crimes for which Mr Lubanga was convicted, comprising the crimes of conscripting and enlisting children under the age of 15 and using them to participate actively in hostilities, as undoubtedly very serious crimes that affect the international community as a whole.
The Presiding Judge added that the “vulnerability of children mean that they need to be afforded particular protection that does not apply to the general population, as recognised in various international treaties”.
Judge Fulford indicated that the Chamber has, however, reflected certain other factors involving Mr Lubanga, namely his notable cooperation with the Court and his respectful attitude throughout the proceedings.
Judge Elizabeth Odio Benito has written a separate and dissenting opinion on a particular issue. She disagrees with the Majority’s decision to the extent that, in her view, it disregards the damage caused to the victims and their families, particularly as a result of the harsh punishments and sexual violence suffered by the victims of these crimes.
ICC jails Thomas Lubanga for 14 yearsUpdated Tuesday, July 10th 2012 at 11:26 GMT +3
By Noah Otieno, Senior Reporter KTN
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