Hague condemns a Congolese rebel leader for recruiting child soldiers


Larissa Duarte, Eduardo García,  Juan Manuel Pérez, Blanca Ribas y Patricia VlaicuDR Congo soldiers

Thomas Lubanga, former leader of the Union of Congolese Patriots, has been convicted of war crimes and for the recruitment of child soldiers by the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Coinciding with the campaign of the American NGO, Invisible Children, against the Ugandan Joseph Kony, who is wanted by the ICC since 2005, accused of crimes against humanity and for the recruitment of child soldiers, on March 14, the Court concluded with this case open for more than a decade, initiating the eradication of a practice that has stolen childhood to thousands of children in Asia, Africa and Latin America.

Not yet established the penalty that will be imposed by enlisting and conscripting children less than 15 years who were forced the fight at the front during the years 2002 and 2003. These children were also used for other tasks such as bodyguards of him and the other military officers. The girls were used to sexually satisfy the chiefs and to do the housework. However, and as has said the judge of this case, Adrian Fulford, these sexual abuses, were not part of the charges against Lubanga and therefore he cannot be  judged by these.

Who is Thomas Lubanga?

This degree in psychology of 51 years and father of seven children, became the spokesman for the Hema soldiers in June 2000, despite having no political experience.

This military group controlled Ituri, a republic Democratic region from Congo which was rich in natural resources and had ethnic conflicts in between two communities, the hema (ranchers) and the lendu (farmers).

Step by step, Lubanga important placements in the government but after being replaced took with him Hema soldiers and after defeated Rassemblement Congolais (primary rebel group of the country) started a indiscriminate attack against the Lendu community and against all foreigners. In September 2002 the president of UPC was elected and since then it became the holy authority which demanded the participation of children in bloody battles. According to data from the United Nations, the number of children that participated during the congolese civil war (1998-2003), which cost the life of 4 million people, reached a 30000.

Finally, in the year 2006, Lubanga was arrested after the Government of Congo asked the Criminal Court to investigate the atrocities committed since 2002.Since the case was opened in 2002, they have discovered testimonies of younger people that go out of the rebel camp like the one written below “The military of Lubanga kidnapped me out of my town when I was 11 years old and they beat me to death. I shot when they ordered it”.

Luckily, the international justice has among its top priorities to eradicate this awful practice of conscription.

 

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