International Criminal Court Hands Down First Sentence Ever
Jul 10, 2012 11:21 AM EDT
On Tuesday, the International Criminal Court (ICC) handed down its first sentence ever since its creation in 2002. ICC sentenced Congo war lord, Thomas Lubanga to 14 years in prison for his role in recruiting children under the age of 15 for his Union of Congolese Patriots militia. The child soldiers were sent to fight and kill on behalf of the rebel army in the Congo Ituri region in 2002 and 2003.
Prosecutors persisted on a longer sentence of 30 years or a 20 year sentence if "Lubanga offered a genuine apology," as per the New York Times; Lubanga did not offer any apology. However, Judge Adrian Fulford sentenced the guerilla fighter only 14 years.
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Judge Fulford released a statement as follows, "The vulnerability of children means they need to be afforded particular protection," as reported by Canada.com.
Lubanga was convicted in March 2006 and has been in detention since. The six years he spent in pretrial detention will count towards his 14 year prison sentence. The ICC does not have any prisons of its own, but rather has deals with a number of countries to use their prison cells. It is unclear where Lubanga will serve the remaining seven years.
Although, Lubanga did not get the longer sentence, the fact that the ICC finally in 10 years of its creation handed down a sentence is certainly a positive step for the permanent tribunal created to prosecute perpetrators of war crimes, genocide and other human rights violations.
The Coalition for the ICC released a statement: "This sentence sends out a stark warning across the world to those engaged in the use of child soldiers that their criminal actions will land them in prison," as reported by Canada.com