Trial of Congolese defendant ‘crucial step’ to end impunity – senior UN official

28 April 2008

The trial of Thomas Lubanga Dyilo, who has been charged by the International Criminal Court with recruiting child soldiers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), will be “a crucial step in the fight against impunity and will have a decisive deterrent effect against perpetrators of this outrageous crime against humanity,” according to the United Nations Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict.

The trial of Thomas Lubanga Dyilo, who has been charged by the International Criminal Court (ICC) with recruiting child soldiers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), will be “a crucial step in the fight against impunity and will have a decisive deterrent effect against perpetrators of this outrageous crime against humanity,” according to the United Nations Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict.

Mr. Lubanga is the founder and leader of the Union of Congolese Patriots in the Ituri region of DRC. He will be tried for the conscription and enlistment of children under the age of 15, and the use of children for active participation in hostilities.

Special Representative Radhika Coomaraswamy spoke today after submitting a legal brief to the court, which is located in The Hague in the Netherlands.

The brief contains observations on the definition of “conscripting and enlisting” children and on the interpretation of the term “participation in hostilities.” Ms. Coomaraswamy is urging a case by case approach with a broad definition of the terms in order to capture the true reality of what has happened in DRC.

The trial of Mr. Lubanga will be the first to be held by the court, and is set to begin in June.

 

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