Tag Archives: Lubanga

Posts related to Thomas Lubanga Dyilo, first defendant at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands.

Lubanga Sentenced to 14 Years

Schevingen Prison in The Hague, Netherlands, where prisoners spend pre-trial detention.

 

Thomas Lubanga Dyilo, the first accused brought to the International Criminal Court, has been sentenced to 14 years imprisonment for the war crimes of recruiting, conscripting and enlisting child soldiers in his rebel army in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Union of Congolese Patriots.  The court announced the guilty verdict in March.

As previously blogged here:

Lubanga was the first accused brought into the custody of court. Lubanga was brought to the court in May of 2006, his trial began in January 2009.  The defense began presenting its case in January 2010.  The case was stopped in 2009 to consider the addition of charges at the request of victims, and for other reasons throughout the trial, failure to disclose evidence by the prosecution, transcription and translation errors, and other issues.  The case was submitted to the court after closing arguments in August 2011.

At one point, the trial chamber ordered Lubanga released, finding that he could not have a fair trial because of the failure of the prosecution to disclose evidence and comply with court orders.  That decision was overturned by the appeals chamber and the trial resumed.

As pointed out in the BBC report, Lubanga has been in the custody of the court for more than 6 years, and so would have something less than eight years to serve.   The prosecution and defense now have 30 days to appeal the verdict and the sentencing order.  It is not clear when the victim’s reparations process will begin, presumably after the resolution of any appeals.

Lubanga Found Guilty

By Jvhertum (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Schevenigen Prison in the Netherlands where ICC prisoners spend pretrial detention.


Trial Chamber I of the International Criminal Court (ICC) today announced a guilty verdict for Thomas Lubanga Dyillo in his war crimes trial in The Hague.  Lubanga was accused of recruiting and conscripting child soldiers as the leader of the Union of Congolese Patriots, (UPC) in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

According to the Lubanga Trial blog:

The ICC judges ruled that the prosecution proved beyond reasonable doubt that Lubanga is guilty of the crimes charged. Judge Adrian Fulford, Presiding Judge of the Trial Chamber, in delivering the verdict said that there was reasonable evidence to believe that Lubanga was involved in a recruitment drive for his UPC rebel group and that such drive included conscripting children and using them for combat purposes. The judges also found that Lubanga personally used children as his bodyguards.

Lubanga was the first accused brought into the custody of court. Lubanga was brought to the court in May of 2006, his trial began in January 2009.  The defense began presenting its case in January 2010.  The case was stopped in 2009 to consider the addition of charges at the request of victims, and for other reasons throughout the trial, failure to disclose evidence by the prosecution, transcription and translation errors, and other issues.  The case was submitted to the court after closing arguments in August 2011.

At one point, the trial chamber ordered Lubanga released, finding that he could not have a fair trial because of the failure of the prosecution to disclose evidence and comply with court orders.  That decision was overturned by the appeals chamber and the trial resumed.

The defense has a right to appeal the verdict to the appeals chamber.  Now that there is a verdict, the court may also begin the reparations phase and determine the appropriate amount and form of reparations to the victims recognized and allowed to participate in the case.

Lubanga Aide Testifies that Lubanga Would Not Use Child Soldiers

Thomas Lubanga Dyilo’s personal secretary testified at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, Netherlands,  this week that Lubanga would never have approved the use or recruitment of child soldiers.  The aide, Michel Angayika Baba, testified that he never saw minors in Lubanga’s bodyguard or entourage.  This is consistent with the testimony of an earlier witness for Lubanga.

Also this week the defense again complained about late disclosure of documents.  Failure to provide disclosures has been an ongoing issue in the case,  once stopping the trial, and the subject of repeated orders by the court. The prosecution offered three documents this week, which the defense argued should have been disclosed earlier.  The prosecution said one of the documents was simply a cleaner copy of an earlier document, two more “became relevant” because of the testimony of  a defense witness.  The prosecution’s determination of what is and what is not relevant and necessary to disclose had led the trial chamber to find last year that Lubanga could not get a fair trial, but that finding was reversed by the appeals chamber.

The prosecution’s position, that it must decide what material is relevant for disclosure has been troubling to some trial watchers and practitioners as well as to the trial chamber.  The prosecution takes the position that much of was it has cannot be disclosed to the defense, but only used a basis to find new evidence since the information has come through diplomatic channels and must be private.  This, of course, raises the question of whether or not the accused can be offered a fair trial if he cannot see the evidence against him or if potentially exculpatory evidence is being hidden, or ignored by the prosecution.

The question to be resolved is, do the rules provide an adequate protection of the accused?  Rule 77 says:
Inspection of material in possession or control of the Prosecutor
The Prosecutor shall, subject to the restrictions on disclosure as provided for in the Statute
and in rules 81 and 82, permit the defence to inspect any books, documents, photographs and
other tangible objects in the possession or control of the Prosecutor, which are material to
the preparation of the defence or are intended for use by the Prosecutor as evidence for the
purposes of the confirmation hearing or at trial, as the case may be, or were obtained from or
belonged to the person.

Part of the issue comes from the hybrid nature of the court.  The court is both a civil law (European) and a common law (U.K./U.S) system. In a traditional civil law system the prosecution has a duty to fully investigate the case, including any exculpatory evidence before presenting the case to the court.  In common law systems the adversarial nature of the process, with full disclosure for the parties is presumed to better serve the interests of justice.  In a hybrid system, does the prosecutor have a greater duty to justice and full and fair investigation, or to build a case against the accused with the defense having an opportunity to present its own case?  Can the defense adequately present its case without all the files available to the prosecution?

In the end, the answers to these question, provided, in part, by the Lubanga case will determine whether or not the ICC is credible.  If the accused cannot get a fair trial, then what is the point of the court?

Lubanga is the first person to face trial in the ICC.  He is alleged to have been using child soldiers in the Democratic Republic of Congo, (DRC).  He was brought to the court in 2006, his trial began in January 2009, and the defense began presenting its case in January 2010.

Lubanga Trial Resumes, Again

The trial of Thomas Lubanga Dyilo resumed this week after a four month break to consider renewed motions to dismiss.  The defense is now presenting its case and offered testimony that Lubanga had ordered the demobilization of child soldiers.  One witness testified that Lubanga’s group, the Union of Congolese Patriots (UPC) provided security in the Ituri region of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) because no one else was able to do so.   There was testimony that Lubanga ordered the demobilization of all soldiers under 18 on three different occasions.  It is not clear if these orders may help to exonerate Lubanga or indicate that he was aware of the presence of child soldiers.  The defense seems to be that child soldiers were integrated into the UPC by assimilating other groups which had conscripted child soldiers, that Lubanga then ordered the child soldiers to be demobilized and his officers did not implement those orders.

Testimony continued today with a witness testifying that there was no forced conscription of child soldiers. The defense witness, Bede Djokaba Lambi Longa testified that there were not child soldiers in the UPC.  According to Longa, some soldiers were not tall, but he did not know them to be children.  There were children in the camps, but they were not soldiers according to Longa.

Lubanga is the first person to face charges in the International Criminal Court (ICC).  He is charged with conscripting and enlisting child soldiers as a war crime.  Lubanga was brought to the court in 2006, his trial began in January 2009, and the defense began presenting its case in January 2010.  The case was stopped in 2009 to consider the addition of new charges and in 2010 to consider the argument that he could not get a fair trial because of the actions of the prosecution in withholding apparently exclupatory evidence. The appeals chamber ultimately reversed that decision and the case is now resuming following a denial of another motion to suspend the case.  A timeline of the trial is available here. Disclosure by the prosecution has been a continuing issue.