SRSG Coomaraswamy welcomes the International Criminal Court’s first verdict – the conviction of Thomas Lubanga for child recruitment

OSRSG/140312-4

Juba, South Sudan, 14 March 2012 – “Today, impunity ends for Thomas
Lubanga and those who recruit and use children in armed conflict,” the
Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed
Conflict, Radhika Coomaraswamy said.

This morning, the International Criminal Court found Thomas Lubanga
Diylo guilty for the war crime of conscripting and enlisting children
under the age of 15 into the Forces patriotiques pour la liberation du
Congo (FPLC).

“In this age of global media, today’s verdict will reach warlords and
commanders across the world and serves as a strong deterrent,” she
added.

Hundreds of children were recruited and trained to kill, plunder, and
rape by Thomas Lubanga and his men during the Ituri conflict in the
Democratic Republic of the Congo between 2002 and 2003. The
recruitment of children under the age of 15 is a war crime under the
Rome Statute of the Court.

“While Lubanga’s victims have had their childhood forever stolen, I am
hopeful that with the justice done today, they will be able to move on
with their lives,” SRSG Coomaraswamy said. The Special Representative
hopes the Court will provide reparations to the victims and their
communities to acknowledge the harm suffered and as a restoration of
their rights lost.

In 2008, SRSG Coomaraswamy was called as an expert witness to the
International Criminal Court, where she underlined that the
involvement in armed conflict must take into account children serving
in support roles during combat such as spies, messengers, porters,
scouts, and cooks. She also highlighted that girls often experience
sexual slavery, repeated rapes, forced marriages, and forced
pregnancies which should be recognized as active participation.

The judgment is part of a larger international effort to end impunity
for violators of children’s rights in conflict and to bring
perpetrators to justice, especially those with command responsibility.
In parallel, the Secretary-General’s annual list of shame of parties
committing violations against children, and the adoption and
possibility of sanctions by the Security Council are other ways of
holding perpetrators accountable and to halt and prevent violations.

“I hope that all crimes committed against children in conflict will be
duly prosecuted, including by Member States who bear the primary
responsibility to bring perpetrators to justice,” SRSG Coomaraswamy
said.

The Special Representative is currently on a mission in South Sudan
where she signed an action plan for the release of children associated
with the Sudanese People’s Liberation Army and the allied militias.
She will also visit Upper Nile and Jonglei states to assess thesituation of children.

For more information:

Amicus curiae – legal brief to the International Criminal Court:
http://www.un.org/children/conflict/_documents/AmicuscuriaeICCLubanga.pdf

Press release: ICC: The Special Representative has visited the International Criminal Court after the submission of an “amicus curiae” on the Lubanga`s case
http://www.un.org/children/conflict/english/pr/2008-04-28181.html

Working Paper “Children and Justice during and in the Aftermath of Armed Conflict”
http://www.un.org/children/conflict/english/index.html

# # #
Juba, South Sudan – traveling with SRSG Coomaraswamy
Timothy La Rose
Communications Officer,
Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict
+211 912 174 064
larose@un.org

In New York
Muriel Gschwend
Associate Communications Officer
Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict
+1 917-367-3562
gschwend@un.org

Website: http://www.un.org/children/conflict
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