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Situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in the Case of the Prosecutor v. Thomas Lubanga Dyilo (2007)
International Criminal Court
2007 Case No. ICC-01/04-01/06 (2007)
Thomas Lubanga Dyilo (Lubanga) (defendant) was charged with war crimes for conscripting children to serve in the Congolese army. Between late 1999 and early 2000, Lubanga entered politics in the Congolese district of Ituri and was elected to its assembly. Ituri is rich in natural resources, including the Congo’s largest and most important gold mine. At the time, tensions had developed in Ituri over land allocation and the appropriation of natural resources. In September 2000, Lubanga and several other leaders signed statutes creating the Union des Patriotes Congolais (UPC). Two years later, the UPC renamed itself the Union des Patriotes Congolais/Reconciliation et Paix (UPC/RP) and appointed Lubanga its president. Lubanga in turn appointed the first members of Ituri’s UPC/RP executive branch. Lubanga officially established its armed military wing, the Forces Patriotiques pour la Libération du Congo (FPLC) and became its first commander in chief. Even before its official founding, the UPC actively recruited significant numbers of children under 15 into military service. The FPLC continued systematically enlisting and conscripting underage children until the end of 2003. Some joined voluntarily, although others were forced into service. The FPLC encouraged families to contribute to the war effort by sending children to military training camps. Recruits received up to two months of training, a uniform, and a personal weapon, then were ordered into front-line combat operations. The most senior FPLC commanders also commonly used children under 15 as personal bodyguards. An International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor (plaintiff) charged Lubanga with war crimes under the ICC statute for conscripting and enlisting children under 15 to fight in the Ituri hostilities, even though the conflict was internal and not international. The ICC convened before trial to decide whether to confirm the charges and issued its opinion in January 2007.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Jorda, J.)
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