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The mission of Child Soldier Relief Foundation (CSR), a 501 (c)(3) non-profit, tax-exempt organization designated by the Internal Revenue Code, is to advocate on behalf of child soldiers by serving as a central repository of information on all topics relating to the topic of child soldiers.

Lubanga Trial: Week 22 in Review – TESTIMONY OF U.N. PEDUTO ON GIRL SOLDIERS

On Tuesday, the trial resumed with the testimony of Christine Peduto, a former United Nations Mission to the Congo (MONUC) employee who ran the child protection office in Bunia. Peduto told the Court she worked with child soldiers who had been demobilized.

“I would ask them numerous questions, as much as the children were willing to answer,” Peduto explained. “It was important to identify the date they were recruited, who provided the child with training, which battles they participated in and the last commander under whose orders the child had served.” She further stated that of the 220 former child soldiers the Bunia office processed, 167 had been associated with the UPC.

Child Soldier 3 111 by cyclopsr.

Endre Vestvik, CRN/Hope In Action – A former child soldier in DR Congo.

Peduto continued her testimony on Wednesday and explained that in determining a child’s age she would evaluate their behavior as older children generally didn’t cry when she would interview them, but younger children would.  She told the Court of her meeting with two young boys,  “They were so very afraid and frightened,” she said. “I remember holding the hand of the younger child to cross the street with him. He was so small…they [had been] with the UPC [Union of Congolese Patriots].”

On Friday, Christine Peduto told the Court that on May 30, 2003 she met with Lubanga at his home in the town of Bunia. “Contrary to the reaction of other armed groups I had previously met with, there was no indication [on Lubanga’s part] of any willingness to cooperate,” Peduto said. “There was no sign of open-mindedness or any willingness to actually discuss the matter.”

Peduto further testified that of the former girl child soldiers she had interviwed, only a few of them had not been raped by commanders.  Many of the girls, Peduto stated, thought that this was a marriage until they were raped by other commanders. “It dawned on them that it wasn’t a legitimate relationship with the first officer,” she said. “The [psychological and physical] state of the young girls was quite terrible, quite catastrophic.”

The trial will resume on Monday.

This post was created by Kate Davey through sourcing from the reporting of Rachel Irwin for lubangatrial.org

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Filed under: Congo, Girl Soldiers, Intl Criminal Ct, Lubanga Trial

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