Monday, March 19, 2012

US Government Praises Lubanga Conviction as "Historic" for Holding Criminals Accountable

By Anjie Zheng

The White House Office of the Press Secretary released a brief statement extolling the ICC's conviction of Congolese warlord Thomas Lubanga on March 14. National Security Council Spokesperson Tommy Vietor said the decision shows that the "international community is united in its determination to end the repugnant practice of using child soldiers."

In a press release that elaborated the US' position, Victoria Nuland, spokesperson for the US Department of State, hailed the ICC's first decision as "an historic and important step in providing justice and accountability for the Congolese people."

The trial, she said, underscored that the conscription and use of child soldiers is "an issue of paramount international concern." Additionally, she highlighted the deterring effects of the guilty verdict, saying "This conviction puts perpetrators and would-be perpetrators of unlawful child soldier recruitment and other atrocities on notice that they cannot expect their crimes to go unpunished."

Thomas Lubanga Dyilo was convicted on March 14 of war crimes of conscripting, enlisting, and using child soldiers between July 2002 and December 2003 during the Ituri conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo. He has not yet been sentenced, although the Prosecutor has noted that he will seek "close to the maximum" sentence possible.

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