Why we care
The Rome Statute, which established the International Criminal Court at The Hague, may offer the strongest protection measures for child soldiers. Under Article 8(2)(b)(xxvi), conscripting or enlisting children under the age of fifteen or using them to participate in hostilities is defined as a war crime. The first case to be tried at the International Criminal Court is that of Thomas Lubanga Dyilo, who is being tried for enlisting and conscripting children and using them in armed conflicts. Lubanga was the head of the Union des Patriotes Congolais (UPC) during the conflict in the Ituri region of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) from 1999 to 2003, and has been accused of having as many as 30,000 boys and girls serving under him.
For more information on Thomas Lubanga, please see this background report at Lubangatrial.org.
About our work
Director of Research Projects Kate Davey has been covering the Lubanga Trial since it began in February 2009. Since then, she has written more than thirty reports and trial updates in an effort to provide a user-friendly summary of the trial as well as focusing in particular on several topics related to our interests, including rape of girl soldiers and girls forced to be “wives”, the issue of paid or false testimony, courtroom security and ensuring adequate witness protection. Other issues Kate has covered in her reporting include the July 2010 order to release of Lubanga (and subsequent reversal of that decision), discussion to broaden the definition of child soldier to include ‘child associated with armed groups’ and cultural acceptance of child participation in armed groups in DRC.
Reports are organized by date and are as follows:
Lubanga Trial: December 2010 and February 2011 in Review On February 23, Judges rejected the defenses request made in December to have the trial dismissed, but did not say why.
Lubanga Trial: November 2010 in Review Court was held in closed session from November 1 through November 5 as the defense stated it would not be able to question witness known as ‘intermediary 321’ in a public session as he would be asked about several people whose identities are unprotected.
Lubanga Trial: October 2010 in Review After being delayed for almost a month, the Lubanga trial resumed on Monday, October 25, 2010 with the testimony of a field liaison for the Court’s Office of the Prosecutor.
Lubanga Trial: August and September 2010 in Review Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo argues that judges should not have halted the Lubanga trial because the prosecutors had not complied with a Court order. Instead Moreno-Ocampo states that the judges should have followed Article 71 of the Rome Statute, which requires a “sanction for misconduct” when Court orders have not been followed. On October 8, 2010, the Appeals Court in the Lubanga trial ordered that the trial may resume and that Lubanga will not be released.
Lubanga Trial: June and July 2010 in Review The defense reviewed in detail payments from the OPT to intermediaries based in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Several defense witnesses stated that OTP intermediaries, in particular intermediary 143, bribed and coached witnesses. The judges ordered the release of Thomas Lubanga Dyilo. Lubanga will remain in detention, however, if the prosecution appeals the release order.
Lubanga Trial: May 2010 in Review The defense presented documents to the Court that the defense says will prove that seven prosecution witnesses, who testified in Court as former child soldiers, are not former child soldiers.
Lubanga Trial: March and April 2010 in Review The eighth defense witness testified although he had never been a child soldier, that he was paid by third parties to the ICC to lie to ICC officials and claim he had been.
Lubanga Trial: February 2010 in Review The defense’s first witness testified that his son had lied to the Court when he stated under oath that he was a child soldier in the UPC.
Lubanga Trial: January 2010 in Review Thomas Lubanga’s trial resumed with the testimony of Radhika Coomaraswamy, the UN Under-Secretary-General, Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, who appeared as an expert witness. The the defense opened its case with Catherine Mabille, Lubanga’s lead attorney, stating the defense will show that the testimonies of the child soldiers brought forth by the prosecution were false and that the defense will request the case be discontinued.
Lubanga Trial to Resume January 7 2010 After a delay of more than five months, the International Criminal Court will resume the trial of Thomas Lubanga Dyilo next week.
Lubanga Trial Delayed October 2009 The Trial Chamber I issued the Decision “adjourning the evidence in the case and consideration of Regulation 55,” which means the trial will be delayed.
Lubanga Trial: Week 23 in Review July 2009 The prosecution rested its case against Lubanga; their case included 30 witnesses over a period of five months.
Lubanga Trial: Week 22 in Review July 2009 U.N. Envoy Peduto further testified that of the former girl child soldiers she had interviewed, 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.
Lubanga Trial: Week 21 in Review July 2009 The witness, who recanted his testimony at the beginning of the trial, has given a new statement, which he requested be kept confidential from the public and Lubanga.
Lubanga Trial: Week 20 in Review June 2009 On Wednesday Roberto Garreton, a Chilean lawyer and former UN Special Rapporteur on the Democratic Republic of Congo, told the Court that child soldiers were widely used in the DRC and that the general public there was not aware that the use of child soldiers is condemned by the international community.
Lubanga Trial: Week 19 in Review June 2009 On Wednesday Roberto Garreton, a Chilean lawyer and former United Nations special envoy on human rights in the DRC, told the Court that child soldiers were widely used in the DRC and that the general public there was not aware that the use of child soldiers is condemned by the international community.
Lubanga Trial: Week 18 in Review June 2009 A witness estimated that about 75 percent of the militia were child soldiers and that many of these children had joined because they wanted revenge for family members who had been killed and that he did not see how senior officers and others could not realize that rape was happening as officers sometimes took part in the rapes.
Lubanga Trial: Week 17 in Review June 2009 Judges rebuked prosecutors for not properly responding to “victims’ attorneys who want charges against Lubanga expanded to include sexual slavery and cruel treatment.”
Lubanga Trial: Week 16 in Review May 2009 Judge Adrian Fulford explained that while the closed proceedings may be “irritating” the Court must ensure the safety of witnesses, and a witness explained that when taking children from the streets of Bunia, there was no age restriction and that children as young as five were taken to be part of the UPC.
Lubanga Trial: Week 15 in Review May 2009 Defense attorney Jean-Marie Biju-Duval argued on Wednesday that individual officers, rather than commanders, were responsible for taking child soldiers.
Lubanga Trial: Week 14 in Review May 2009 Prof. Catherine Adamsbaum, a pediatric imagery expert invited by the Court to determine the ages of child soldiers in the UPC, testified that x-rays taken of former child soldiers indicate that they were 15 at the time of the x-ray in 2007.
Lubanga Trial: Week 13 in Review May 2009 Serge Kilo Ngabu, a former social worker in a region controlled by the UPC, testified that Lubanga’s army had girl and boy child soldiers in it, some as young as nine.
Lubanga Trial Week 12 in Review April 2009 The Lubanga Trial is in recess and will resume May 5, at 9:30 AM.
Lubanga Trial: Week 11 in Review April 2009 The trial resumed on Tuesday, April 7 with the testimony of psychologist Elisabeth Schauer who explained that many former child soldiers experience post traumatic stress disorder.
Lubanga Trial: Week 10 in Review April 2009 This past week, Lubanga’s control over the UPC as a military was put in question by Witness 17, who stated that “the army almost belonged” to another military leader, UPC Chief of Staff Floribert Kisembo.
Lubanga Trial: Week 9 in Review – March 2009 The Prosecution called on author and historian Gerard Prunier to explain how the conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo developed.
Lubanga Trial: Week 8 in Review March 2009 On Wednesday Judge Elizabeth Odio Benito asked the witness to clarify statements about the girl child soldiers and pregnancies, specifically if he had seen a 14-year old girl die after an abortion.
Lubanga Trial: Week 7 in Review – March 2009 On Friday, March 13 the trial resumed with the testimony of a former child soldier who explained that if child soldiers tried to escape the UPC, they would be executed.
Lubanga Trial: Week 6 in Review – March 2009 During this week, two former child soldiers testified about their experiences in battle and how they have since been affected by their experiences.
Lubanga Trial: Week 5 in Review – March 2009 A new witness took the stand, a former child solider, who testified that he and other child soldiers were ordered to rape girls by their commanders.
Lubanga Trial: First Week in Review – February 2009 This week has seen opening statements and testimony in the Lubanga Trial. One of the major issues that has come out of the trial is the witnesses’ safety and the reliability of their testimony.