Thomas Lubanga Dyilo, the former head of the UPC is facing trial this coming June for charges of recruiting and conscripting children under the age 15, and using them to participate actively in hostilities during the conflict in the Ituri region of north-eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, DRC.
According to this article, Radhika Coomaraswamy, UN Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict traveled to the ICC at the Hague to submit an “amicus curiae” brief – SEE THE ACTUAL COURT DOCUMENT HERE – to the court to consider that:
The crime of using children to “participate actively” in hostilities should be understood to include the sexual violence suffered by girls forced to join Lubanga’s militia.
“There have been interpretations that [the charge defined as] ‘participate actively’ should be confined to military activities. We argue that using women as sex slaves or wives, in a context of war in the DRC, can be meant as using them actively in hostilities,” Coomaraswamy told IWPR.
In her brief, Coomaraswamy reminded the court that the Paris Principles of last year, which reviewed the earlier set of principles, renewed the status of child soldier for all minors used for sexual purposes.
She is calling for the terms “using” and “participating” – which are narrowly defined in the ICC’s statute to mean military activities linked to combat – such as scouting, spying and sabotage as well as fighting – to be broadened to include the sexual violence that girls had to endure during their time as conscripted or enlisted child soldiers.
The defense challenged the submission.