FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
On July 10, 2012, the International Criminal Court (“ICC”) sentenced Thomas Lubanga Dyilo (“Lubanga”) to 14 years in prison, after finding him guilty of committing war crimes, including the enlistment and conscription of children under the age of 15 in the armed conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (“DRC”) between September 2002 and August 2003. This landmark sentence marks the first ever to be imposed by the ICC.
Lubanga will have a chance to appeal this decision, and he will be given time served—a common national and international legal practice—for the six-year period he was detained in The Hague. This means that he will serve an additional eight years of imprisonment at a soon-to-be-determined location.
The judges found that the 30-year sentence requested by the Prosecution would be inappropriate because of a combination of mitigating factors, such as the defendant’s cooperation, and a lack of aggravating factors, including an absence of evidence presented to the Chamber regarding sexual and gender-related violence. The Prosecution had been willing to reduce its request to 20 years, but only if Lubanga offered a “genuine apology” to the victims of his crimes, which he did not.
“The legal representatives of victims in this case endeavored to make victims’ voices heard, as illustrated by their attempts to advance charges for sexual violence,” said Wanda Akin, Co-Founder of the International Justice Project. “Even though sexual and gender-related violence was not considered at sentencing as an aggravating factor because of a lack of evidence provided to the Chamber by the Prosecution, we were encouraged by the judges’ comments regarding the importance of these types of charges and willingness to consider evidence in future cases.”
In March 2006, Lubanga became the first person to be arrested by the ICC. Six years later, he was the first defendant convicted of enlisting, conscripting, and using children to participate in active and violent hostilities in the DRC. And, the story of atrocities committed in the DRC is not finished, as Lubanga’s co-accused Bosco Ntaganda has yet to be brought to justice. The ICC has issued two arrest warrants for Ntaganda for various international crimes.
Read the official ICC press release on the Lubanga trial here.
Read the CICC press release here.