The International Criminal Court (ICC) today found Congolese warlord Thomas Lubanga Dyilo guilty of recruiting child soldiers, in a landmark ruling hailed by United Nations officials as an important step in the fight against impunity.
The verdict is the first ever to be issued by the ICC, the first permanent international court set up to prosecute individuals for genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and the crime of aggression, since it was set up a decade ago.
The Court’s trial chamber found Mr. Lubanga Dyilo guilty of the war crimes of conscripting and enlisting children under the age of 15 into the Patriotic Forces for the Liberation of Congo, and using them to participate actively in hostilities in Ituri in north-eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) from September 2002 to August 2003.
“A common plan was agreed by Mr. Lubanga Dyilo and his co-perpetrators to build an army for the purpose of establishing and maintaining political and military control over Ituri. This resulted in boys and girls under the age of 15 being conscripted and enlisted, and used to participate actively in hostilities,” stated a news release issued by the Court, which is based in The Hague.
The verdict was hailed by senior UN officials as a victory for the protection of children in conflict and a major milestone in the fight against impunity.