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Lubanga to pay, but child soldiers still being recruited

| September 5, 2012 | 0 Comments

In early July, the International Criminal Court sentenced Thomas Lubanga to 14 years in prison.

Lubanga, a Congolese warlord, was convicted in March 2012 of coercing children to fight in his Union of Congolese Patriots militia during a period of bloody battle in Congo’s eastern Ituri region in 2002–2003. Lubanga is the first person to be convicted by the permanent War Crimes Tribunal at The Hague. Presiding Judge Adrian Fulford gave Lubanga three sentences of 13, 12 and 14 years for conscripting, enlisting and using child soldiers, but the sentences are to be served concurrently.

His sentence has been hailed by children’s rights activists as an important milestone in the bid to keep children in school and away from war. However, against the backdrop of the news, another Congolese general, Bosco Ntaganda – evading an international arrest warrant for his alleged use of child soldiers during an earlier conflict – has forcibly recruited another 149 boys and teenagers since April 2012, says Human Rights Watch.

Like child soldiers in other parts of the world, the children and teens were abducted from their homes, their schools, from fields and the sides of roads in eastern Congo, physically and mentally abused, and put on the front lines of combat in the line of fire, without any training. They are also expected to kill on command. Rebel forces are currently advancing towards the provincial capital, Goma, in eastern Congo. The mutiny is led by Ntaganda.

The United Nations Security Council has also just released a report on children and armed conflict, which highlights violations against children by Syrian Armed Forces, intelligence forces and pro-government militias. The violations include targeted killings, torture of children in detention, the use of children as human shields, and attacks on schools and their use for military operations. The report also says that armed opposition groups, including the Free Syrian Army, are recruiting children as soldiers.

Category: Spring 2012

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