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March 14, 2012 7:43 AM   Subscribe

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] [BBC] [Guardian] [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.
posted by jaduncan (25 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite

 
It's good to see somebody's doing something more about this than making 'cool videos'. Any way the ICC can go 'viral'?
posted by oneswellfoop at 8:00 AM on March 14, 2012 [5 favorites]


Now, what good will this do?
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 8:09 AM on March 14, 2012


The International Criminal Court has delivered its first judgement, after a decade in existence, and spending nearly $1bn. Critics say it costs too much, but is this fair?
posted by Anything at 8:10 AM on March 14, 2012


You mean apart from incarceration of the bastard and high-profile news about the plight of child soldiers?
posted by brokkr at 8:11 AM on March 14, 2012


I cannot "like" this enough.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 8:11 AM on March 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


oh man you guys that Kony person is in SO MUCH TROUBLE now.
posted by mightygodking at 8:39 AM on March 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


I liked prosecuting Kony back before it was cool but now the Kardashians are into it and I'm just all, whatever.
posted by Navelgazer at 8:41 AM on March 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


Any way the ICC can go 'viral'?

"Viral justice" seems like it's part of the problem here, actually.
posted by nebulawindphone at 8:56 AM on March 14, 2012


I'm having a hard time seeing either this event or the LRA/IC media circus as fodder for jokes.
posted by HuronBob at 9:06 AM on March 14, 2012 [5 favorites]


I'm interested that now the use of child soldiers is against international law. What this does, I believe, is create universal jurisdiction over the crime of using child soldiers.

Universal jurisdiction means that any court has the ability to try the crime, even if it hasn't happened within their territorial boundaries, or even to their own citizens.

Typical international crimes include genocide and war crimes. Torture, piracy and terrorism are often considered to have universal jurisdiction. This allows, for instance, Spain to try Alberto Gonzales for torturing people in Cuba who aren't Spanish. Or Israel's trial of Eichmann.

The list of crimes considered so universally egregious that they can be tried anywhere is relatively short and hasn't really changed since the ICC was first instituted about 20 years ago. So it's interesting to see use of child soldiers added to the list. It's a good addition, in my opinion.
posted by jabberjaw at 9:16 AM on March 14, 2012 [10 favorites]


How can this be effectively and realistically enforced?
posted by kinnakeet at 9:34 AM on March 14, 2012


It's good to see somebody's doing something more about this than making 'cool videos'.

"Invisible Children"--the organization behind that "cool video"--have been working for years to publicize the plight of child soldiers in Africa. Carping about the fact that an organization whose primary purpose is to raise the public profile of a problem that isn't on most people's radar screens had a spectacular success seems just bizarre to me.

No one, least of all the people at Invisible Children, is claiming that making or watching that video is, in itself, a sufficient response to the problem--but surely mobilizing public opinion is an important part of any meaningful political response?
posted by yoink at 9:36 AM on March 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


How can this be effectively and realistically enforced?

Well, it obviously won't be reliably and consistently enforced, but Jabberjaw makes an excellent point, above, about the increased liability anyone engaging in this practice now faces. Any court in any country at any time can address this issue. It will make it harder for people engaged in this practice to do things like maintain international bank accounts or travel internationally etc. without fear of legal action.
posted by yoink at 9:38 AM on March 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


Good news is good.

Sadly, the US has "unsigned" the statute. Way to put forward a united front against international arseholes...
posted by sodium lights the horizon at 9:39 AM on March 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


By the way, as a pure sidebar can I just praise the formatting of this post? The clear labeling of each of the links is such a relief when so often you're left with no idea where to click for the meat of the post and which bits are background or supporting material or random wikipedia infill or whatever.
posted by yoink at 9:40 AM on March 14, 2012 [12 favorites]


Some related viewing.
posted by lazaruslong at 9:42 AM on March 14, 2012


Seconding yoink's sidebar: excellent formatting. Thanks.
posted by mbatch at 10:23 AM on March 14, 2012


This seems like a good thing. The International Court should find and prosecute war criminals.

Do we (America), as a nation, support this when they arrest, say, Rumsfield?
posted by mule98J at 10:41 AM on March 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


sodium lights the horizon : Sadly, the US has "unsigned" the statute. Way to put forward a united front against international arseholes...

Countdown until the Vatican condemns this judgment for fear that it will somehow, somewhere encourage a couple to use a condom: 30, 29, 28...
posted by IAmBroom at 11:18 AM on March 14, 2012


From a year ago, but relevant here:Obama Waives Child Soldier Ban in Yemen and Congo
posted by williampratt at 11:42 AM on March 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


How can this be effectively and realistically enforced?
Well, it obviously won't be reliably and consistently enforced, but Jabberjaw makes an excellent point, above, about the increased liability anyone engaging in this practice now faces. Any court in any country at any time can address this issue. It will make it harder for people engaged in this practice to do things like maintain international bank accounts or travel internationally etc. without fear of legal action.
Universaljurisdiction.org has a list of such cases.
posted by Anything at 11:55 AM on March 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


For one example that's been in the news here in Finland, Francois Bazaramba, a Rwandan preacher was arrested, tried and sentenced to life imprisonment for participating in genocide in a district court in the small Finnish city of Porvoo.
posted by Anything at 12:07 PM on March 14, 2012 [4 favorites]


The US has fought kicking and screaming against the ICC because the US refuses to recognize the legitimacy of any authority or entity other than itself.

We so passionately want to be Rome.
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:38 PM on March 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


The US has fought kicking and screaming against the ICC because the US refuses to recognize the legitimacy of any authority or entity other than itself.

Hey, all the good guys voted against the ICC: China, Iraq, Israel, Libya, Qatar, United States, and Yemen. Where Yemen stands, we stand!
posted by yoink at 1:02 PM on March 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Good news.

Any court in any country can't now address the issue though - universal jurisdiction is a controversial jurisdictional theory that trumps the classic jurisdictional theory that a court may hear cases arising in that court's territory (or over a person somehow falling under its jurisdiction). Spain actually exerts universal jurisdiction; most countries don't. The U.S. has a few criminal human rights statutes that arguably include elements of universal jurisdiction though they don't reach quite that far (war crimes, torture, genocide, and most recently the use or recruitment of child soldiers under 18 USC 2442, enacted in 2008).
posted by semacd at 5:14 AM on March 15, 2012


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