Aid agency World Vision has welcomed today’s historic sentencing of a Congolese rebel leader who has devastated children’s lives by recruiting them as soldiers.
The International Criminal Court (ICC) has handed a 14 year jail sentence to Thomas Lubanga, who was earlier convicted of enlisting and conscripting children to fight for his rebel group.
World Vision, which works with children in conflict-affected countries across the globe, has been based in the DRC for 27 years and helps to rehabilitate child soldiers back into society.
Erica Hall, Senior Child Rights Policy Advisor at WVUK, said: “The case makes history because it’s the first conviction based solely on the recruitment of child soldiers. It sends a clear message that the international community won’t tolerate these crimes.
“These young people’s lives have been devastated forever and they still need long-term support to rebuild their lives.
“The ICC was set up with a special trust fund to help victims, so we’ll be watching to see how the court can direct support to the children Lubanga recruited, who are still living with the terrible consequences, and the wider communities in which they live.”
Lubanga was a rebel leader in the north-eastern corner of Democratic Republic of Congo – a war-torn country two-thirds the size of western Europe on the equator in central Africa. The 51-year-old recruited children during 2002 and 2003 to fight for the Patriotic Forces for the Liberation of Congo, training them to use weapons and making them fight on the front line.
Many recruits, including children under the age of 15, were killed in the fighting. It followed a dispute over land and natural resources in the Ituri region of the DR Congo back in 1999, prompting renewed violence in 2002.
10 July 2012