Con­golese war­lord con­victed in ICC’S 1st judg­ment

The Washington Times Daily - - World - BY MIKE CORDER

THE HAGUE | The In­ter­na­tional Crim­i­nal Court on Wed­nes­day con­victed a Con­golese war­lord of us­ing child sol­diers, a ver­dict hailed as a le­gal land­mark in the fight against im­punity for the world’s most se­ri­ous crimes.

Hu­man rights ad­vo­cates said the guilty ver­dicts against Thomas Lubanga — the first judg­ment in the court’s 10year his­tory — should stand as a clear de­ter­rent to armies around the world not to con­script chil­dren.

Lubanga will be sen­tenced af­ter a hear­ing that will be sched­uled later this year. He faces a max­i­mum of life im­pris­on­ment.

The judg­ment came at a time when the court is un­der scru­tiny for its in­abil­ity to ar­rest key war-crimes sus­pects and its im­po­tence in not be­ing able to in­ter­vene in the bloody con­flict rag­ing in Syria.

The court was cat­a­pulted into the lime­light last week by a vi­ral video high­light­ing how it still has not ar­rested Ugan­dan rebel Joseph Kony nearly seven years af­ter in­dict­ing him for crimes, in­clud­ing us­ing child sol­diers, mur­der and tor­ture.

The court has no po­lice force of its own and has to rely on states to en­force its ar­rest war­rants.

It also can only open in­ves­ti­ga­tions in the 120 coun­tries that have rec­og­nized its ju­ris­dic­tion or at the re­quest of the U.N. Se­cu­rity Coun­cil. Na­tions in­clud­ing the United States, China, Rus­sia and Syria are not mem­bers.

That means it can’t launch a probe into wide­spread al­le­ga­tions that forces loyal to Syr­ian Pres­i­dent Bashar As­sad are sys­tem­at­i­cally com­mit­ting atroc­i­ties to put down an anti-gov­ern­ment re­volt.

So far, all seven of the in­ves­ti­ga­tions launched by the court are in Africa.

The high­est pro­file sus­pects among five in cus­tody are for­mer Ivory Coast Pres­i­dent Lau­rent Gbagbo and exCongo Vice Pres­i­dent Jean-pierre Bemba.

Su­danese Pres­i­dent Omar al-bashir has been in­dicted for geno­cide in Dar­fur but re­fuses to sur­ren­der to the court.

It took six years from the time Congo handed over Lubanga to his con­vic­tions, but ul­ti­mately the three-judge panel was unan­i­mous in find­ing him guilty.

“The pros­e­cu­tion has proved be­yond rea­son­able doubt that Mr. Thomas Lubanga is guilty of the crimes of con­script­ing and en­list­ing chil­dren un­der the age of 15 years and us­ing them to par­tic­i­pate ac­tively in hos­til­i­ties,” said Pre­sid­ing Judge Adrian Ful­ford.


A Chi­nese mil­i­tary band con­duc­tor re­hearses be­fore the clos­ing ses­sion of the an­nual Na­tional Peo­ple’s Congress in Bei­jing’s Great Hall of the Peo­ple on Wed­nes­day.

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