History is made: the ICC has made their first ruling; Lubanga is guilty
, and the use of child soldiers is now clearly against international law. [NYT
] [actual judgement
] [judgement summary
These allegations of fact are now proven, as a background primer:
• In the summer of 1999, tensions developed as a result of disputes over the allocation of land in Ituri (in the DRC) and the appropriation of natural resources. During the second half of 2002, there was renewed violence in various parts of the district. An armed conflict took place from July 2002 to December 2003, with the involvement of different armed groups and neighbouring States.
• Mr Lubanga is the alleged founder of the Union des patriotes congolais [Union of Congolese Patriots] (UPC) and president of the group since it was founded in September 2000, and was the alleged former Commander-in-Chief of its military wing, the Forces patriotiques pour la libération du Congo (FPLC) from September 2002 until at least late 2003.
• In 2002, the FPLC reportedly took control of the town of Bunia and certain parts of Ituri.
• From July 2002 to December 2003, the FPLC allegedly forcibly recruited groups of children in several localities in Ituri. These forcible recruitments were allegedly carried out by FPLC commanders and, on at least one occasion, Thomas Lubanga Dyilo himself allegedly took part in the conscription of a group of children, some of whom were under the age of 15 years.
• Other children under the age of 15 years “voluntarily” joined the FPLC or were made available to it by their parents, particularly after calls for mobilisation directed at the Hema population or, for some of them, out of a desire for revenge after the loss of a close relative allegedly killed by the militias which were fighting the FPLC. The FPLC allegedly accepted them, thus implementing an enlistment policy.
• Following their recruitment, the children were allegedly taken to FPLC training camps (in Bule, Centrale, Mandro, Rwampara, Bogoro, Sota and Irumu), where they allegedly received military training which began the day after their arrival in the camp and could last up to two months, during which they were subjected to rigorous and strict discipline, including lengthy and exhausting physical exercise which lasted all day, as well as being forced to sing aggressive military songs. They also underwent firearms training, and at the end of their training, the children were often given a military uniform, a firearm and ammunitions. The FPLC commanders then made them fight on the front line.
• Children under the age of 15 years participated actively in hostilities, specifically in Libi and Mbau in October 2002, in Largu in early 2003, in Lipri and Bogoro in February/March 2003 and in Bunia in May 2003. During the fighting, these children reportedly used their weapons; some of them reportedly had to kill, and many recruits, including minors under the age of 15 years, lost their lives in combat.
• Children under the age of 15 years were also used as bodyguards by the FPLC commanders and Thomas Lubanga Dyilo personally used them.
• Through the positions he allegedly held as UPC President and Commander-in-Chief of the FPLC, Mr Thomas Lubanga Dyilo is believed to have had de facto ultimate control over the adoption and implementation of UPC and FPLC policies and practices, including enlisting and conscripting of children under the age of 15 years into the FPLC and using them to participate actively in hostilities.