Geneva, 15 March 2012 – The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child welcomes the ruling by the International Criminal Court (ICC) on 14 March 2012, finding Thomas Lubanga guilty for the war crime of conscripting and enlisting children under the age of 15 in the armed conflict in the Ituri region of Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) between 2002 and 2003.
The Chairperson of the Committee, Mr Jean Zermatten, welcomed the verdict of the ICC as a great leap forward to end impunity for the recruitment and use of children in armed conflict: “The verdict of the ICC sends a strong message to all those who continue to perpetrate the most serious crimes against children that the time has come for justice and accountability”.
“Children are still recruited in the ranks of almost all armed groups in the DRC where they continue to suffer the most serious forms of violence”, Mr Zermatten added. “I hope that this landmark ruling will also lead States which shoulder their responsibility for bringing perpetrators to justice to show greater commitment at the highest levels to stop the recruitment and use of children”.
The DRC ratified the UN Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict in 2001 and the Committee considered its initial report in January 2012.
For the Concluding Observations of the Committee on the Rights of the Child on the initial report of DRC under the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict, please see http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/crc/crcs59.htm