Library of Congress

Law Library of Congress

The Library of Congress > Law Library > News & Events > Global Legal Monitor

Congo, The Democratic Republic of the; International Criminal Court: Accusations Connected with Child Soldiers

(May 2, 2008) Thomas Lubanga Dyilo will be tried in June 2008 by the International Criminal Court (ICC). He is accused of recruiting child soldiers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The trial is seen by the United Nations Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, Radhika Coomaraswamy, as "a crucial step in the fight against impunity and [it] will have a decisive deterrent effect against perpetrators of this outrageous crime against humanity." (Trial of Congolese Defendant 'Crucial Step' to End Impunity – Senior UN Official, UN NEWS, Apr. 28, 2008.)

Lubanga Dyilo was the leader of the Union of Congolese Patriots. He is on trial for conscripting children under the age of 15 and using them in active roles in armed conflict in the DRC. Coomaraswamy submitted a brief to the Court in The Hague defining the terms used in the indictment, including "conscripting and enlisting" children and "participation in hostilities." (Id.)

In a related case, the ICC prosecutors have recently made public an arrest warrant issued in August 2006 for Bosco Ntaganda, a militia leader who has been accused of forcibly enlisting children as soldiers. His militia operated in the eastern part of the DRC from July 2002 through 2003. In a statement about Ntaganda, an associate of Lubanga Dyilo, the ICC said, "[h]e must be arrested. Like all the other indicted criminals in Uganda and the Sudan, he must be stopped if we want to break the system of violence. For such criminals, there must be no escape. Then peace will have a chance. Then victims will have hope." (International Criminal Court Calls for Arrest of Congolese Militia Leader, UN NEWS, Apr. 29, 2008.)