Monday, March 27, 2006

First step towards justice for eastern Congo victims of war.

Finally! I've been expecting this for a while now. The International Criminal Court issued the first arrest warrant of this case, against Thomas Lubanga. He made an appearence at the pre-trial chamber for an initial public hearing last week.

Thomas Lubanga, leader of the Union of Congolese Patriots (UPC), an armed group responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity in the Ituri region of north-eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. The warrant, unsealed today, charges Lubanga with the conscription and recruitment of child soldiers who were used to participate actively in the conflict. [...] UPC combatants under the leadership of Lubanga slaughtered at least 800 civilians on the basis of their ethnicity in the gold mining region of Mongbwalu between November 2002 and June 2003. In another incident in August 2002, the UPC conducted a “man hunt” for persons of Lendu ethnicity and other political opponents, detaining them in two notorious prison areas where scores were tortured and summarily executed.

more @ Human Rights Watch

This sends out a clear message to those warlords: no crime should be unpunished, and the victims deserve justice. Certain political figures (presidential candidates among them) have been granted immunity within Congo. I wonder if the ICC will still bring them to justice. Last year, Jean-Pierre Bemba was interviewed by the BBC and to my surprise he defended himself pretty well (see video here). However he and many others still have questions to answer.

In other news A Congolese parliamentary investigation urged the government to stop the illegal exploitation of natural resources. I doubt much is going to happen there. Read about it here for a brief report, and here for an in depth analysis (in french)

cross-posted here.

1 comment:

TheMalau said...

Welcome back, mere Exilee! I need some support here ;)

The Lubanga thing was a really positive move, bt also a ver political and theatrica one. Lubanga was a bit of a sacrificial lamb... Bemba, some RCD folks, Museveni, Kagame and others should also be on that same defendant bench. But the victors always win, right? They get to be Vice-Presidents, Presidents, Generals, etc... (sigh)

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