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Left: Thomas Lubanga on trial at the ICC in the Hague. Right: a child soldier. Some rights reserved by WITNESS.org.

The end of impunity?

The International Criminal Court issues a verdict

Ten years after it was founded, the International Criminal Court has issued its first decision. On March 14, the ICC—the world’s first permanent tribunal with jurisdiction over war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide—found Congolese warlord Thomas Lubanga guilty of recruiting and enlisting child soldiers. He forced children as young as 11 to pick up guns and aid in ethnic cleansing in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2002–2003.

The landmark decision has been hailed as a victory for the protection of children in armed conflict and praised for its strong message to perpetrators that violations of international law will no longer go unpunished. Estonian diplomat Tiina Intelmann, the president of the Assembly of States Parties which established the ICC, declared, “We have left the age of impunity behind us and entered the age of accountability.”

 

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