On December 1, 2014, the Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Court (ICC) confirmed, by a majority, the verdict that declared Thomas Lubanga Dyilo guilty as well as the decision that sentenced him to 14 years of imprisonment. Mr. Lubanga was found by the Trial Chamber to be committing war crimes that consisted of enlisting and conscripting children under the age of 15 into the Patriotic Force for the Liberation of Congo (FPLC). He allegedly used these children to actively participate in hostilities of armed conflict between the times of September 1, 2002 through August 13, 2003. These offenses were found punishable under Article 8(2)(e)(vii) of the Rome Statute.
Article 8 of the Rome Statute states:
“(2) For the purpose of this statute, ‘war crimes’ means: (e) Other serious violations of the laws and customs applicable in armed conflicts not of an international character, within the established framework of international law, namely, any of the following acts: (vii) Conscripting or enlisting children under the age of fifteen years into armed forces or groups or using them to participate actively in hostilities.”
The Appeals Chamber explained in their decision that they only intervene in findings of the Trial Chamber if they were found to be “unreasonable.” They further went on to say that they deferred to the Trial Chamber’s conclusion after an assessment of the age of the child soldiers. The Trial Chamber’s findings were held to be reasonable. Therefore, every ground of appeal raised by the Defense was rejected, and the decision that established the 14 year sentence was confirmed.
The country in which Mr. Lubanga will be serving his sentence has yet to be determined. The Court decides where prison sentences will be served based off a list of States that have indicated to the Court their willingness to accept persons who have been convicted. Until the place is of his sentencing is determined by the Presidency of the Court, Mr. Lubanga will remain in the detention center in The Hauge.
The crimes that he committed are inexcusable, and in my opinion the sentencing should possibly have been longer. Children should not be put into situations that involve war; something needs to be done to show men like Mr. Lubanga that they cannot get away with crimes like these. Given that Mr. Lubanga will have served two thirds of his sentence by July 2015, and under the Rome Statute the Court shall review sentencing to determine whether it should be reduced after two thirds has been served, do you think the Court should reduce his sentence? Do you think that he has served enough time already in regards to the crimes that he committed? Or do you think that he should serve the entire 14 years?
Photo: SABC News