Photo: European Commission DG ECHO

Historical Verdict On The Use of Child Soldiers

War criminal Thomas Lubanga was last year convicted of sending child soldiers to war during the armed conflict in the Congo. His conviction shows that crimes will no longer stay unpunished.

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It took almost 10 years from the establishment of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague until the court pronounced its first verdict.

On 14 March 2012 the former war criminal, Thomas Lubanga, was found guilty of forcing child soldiers under 15 years to go to war during the armed conflict in the Congo between 2002 and 2003.

The sentence shows how the ICC can punish the perpetrators behind the most heinous genocide and crimes against humanity around the world, says Amnesty.

‘Today’s verdict will give pause to those around the world who commit the horrific crime of using and abusing children both on and off the battlefield. This verdict of guilty demonstrates that the ICC can step in to bring them to justice’,says Michael Bochenek, Director of Amnesty International’s Law and Policy Programme.

More missing people brought to trial

The case against Thomas Lubanga is the first time the ICC’s passed sentence, but more cases can be on the way.

Unfortunately, missing war criminals like the Congolese military chief of staff, Bosco Ntaganda, the president of Sudan, Omar al-Bashir, and military leader, Joseph Kony, who is known from last year’s internet campaign Kony2012, remain at large.

ICC has pressed charges and is searching for all of them.

Although Amnesty praises ICC’s verdict in the case of Thomas Lubanga, the organisation still calls for extensive global support for the work of the ICC.

‘Global public support for the work of the ICC is needed to help overcome the major challenges the Court still faces in its other cases’, explains Michael Bochenek, Director of Amnesty International’s Law and Policy Programme.

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