DRC: German Government Welcomes ICC Verdict on Lubanga
BERLIN ---The International Criminal Court’s announcement of its decision to sentence the former Congolese militia leader Thomas Lubanga to 14 years’ imprisonment at the Hague yesterday has been welcomed by the German Government. Lubanga was found guilty of recruiting and using child soldiers on 14 March 2012.
Markus Löning, Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy in his statement said that the German Government welcomed yesterday’s decision by the International Criminal Court as another landmark in the fight against impunity in cases of serious crimes against international law.
He continued by saying that today no-one can any longer expect such crimes to go unpunished. What is more, holding the perpetrators of grievous injustices to account is a contribution towards peace and reconciliation.
“By handing down this sentence to Thomas Lubanga, the International Criminal Court has once again demonstrated its significance in a most impressive manner. Ten years after the entry into force of the Rome Statute and the establishment of the International Criminal Court, it is becoming ever more clear that it plays a central role in the persecution and punishment of crimes such as genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.”
The Congolese warlord was convicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in March - the first conviction since the court was set up 10 years ago.
Lubanga had protested his innocence and said he had not supported the use of child soldiers.
But in a unanimous decision, the judges said Lubanga was responsible.
Campaign group Human Rights watch says more than 60,000 people were killed in the conflict between Hema and Lendu ethnic groups in Ituri, in north-eastern DR Congo.
In June, ICC chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo said he was asking for a "severe sentence" of 30 years.
He said the prosecution was requesting a sentence "in the name of each child recruited, in the name of the Ituri region".
The conviction of Lubanga is linked to current unrest in DR Congo.
Rebel forces are advancing towards the country's main eastern city of Goma. They are headed by Gen Bosco Ntaganda, who is also wanted for war crimes by the ICC.