The International Criminal Court (ICC) on Dec. 1 upheld the conviction and sentence of former Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) militia leader Thomas Lubanga Dyilo. Lubanga was convicted in March 2012 for the war crimes of enlisting and conscripting children under the age of 15 and using them to participate actively in hostilities. He received a 14-year prison sentence from the ICC. Lubanga's lawyers were seeking to have the conviction and the sentence replaced with an acquittal. Lubanga has spent the past eight years in prison, all of which count towards the 14-year total. He will serve out the remainder of the sentence in one of the ICC's 122 member states and will be eligible for early release next year.
Prosecutor v. Thomas Lubanga Dyilo is a landmark case for the ICC because Lubanga was the first prisoner taken into custody and delivered to the international criminal tribunal in The Hague in 2006. The prosecution concluded its case in July 2009 after presenting 22 weeks of testimony. Lubanga's trial began in January 2009 after being delayed for evidentiary reasons and was then halted soon afterward when one of the child witnesses recanted his testimony that Lubanga had recruited him for the militia. He was charged with recruiting child soldiers in 2006. In March 2006 he was taken into ICC custody, becoming the first DRC war crimes defendant to appear before the ICC. (Critics protested that charges of rape and systematic sexual abuse were not brought against Lubanga, despite massive evidence.)
From Jurist, Dec. 2. Used with permission.