Belfast Telegraph

Home News World

Warlord jailed over child soldiers

A Congolese warlord has been jailed for 14 years by the International Criminal Court for using child soldiers.

Thomas Lubanga was convicted in March of recruiting and using children in his Union of Congolese Patriots militia during fighting in the Democratic Republic of Congo's eastern Ituri region in 2002-2003.

The 51-year-old is the first person convicted by the 10-year-old permanent war crimes tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands.

Prosecutors had asked for a 30-year sentence, but said they would be willing to cut it to 20 years if Lubanga offered a "genuine apology" to victims of his crimes.

Lubanga showed no emotion as Presiding Judge Adrian Fulford read out the sentence. The judge said the sentence reflected the need to protect children in wartime.

"The vulnerability of children means they need to be afforded particular protection," he said.

Rights activists hailed the case as a milestone in efforts to prosecute the widespread use of child soldiers in conflicts around the world.

Judge Fulford gave Lubanga three sentences of 13, 12 and 14 years for conscripting, enlisting and using child soldiers but the sentences are to be served concurrently.

Conscripting involves abducting children and pressing them into military service while enlisting them can be done voluntarily.

The judge said the time Lubanga has served in pre-trial detention since March 2006 would be deducted from his sentence. It was not immediately clear where Lubanga will serve his sentence. The court has no prison cells for holding convicted war criminals. Lubanga can appeal over both his conviction and sentence.


From Belfast Telegraph