Warrant of Arrest against Thomas Lubanga Dyilo
Issuance of a Warrant of Arrest against Thomas Lubanga Dyilo
The Hague, 17 March 2006
On 12 January 2006, the Office of the Prosecutor submitted an application for the issuance of a warrant of arrest against Thomas Lubanga Dyilo. He is alleged to have been involved in the commission of war crimes, namely, enlisting and conscripting children under the age of fifteen and using them to participate actively in hostilities (see articles 8(2)(b)(xxvi) or 8(2)(e)(vii) of the Rome Statute). These are alleged crimes which will have to be proven.
The Prosecutor, Mr Luis Moreno-Ocampo, has said: “The alleged crimes are extremely serious. Throughout the world, children are being trained to become machines of war. Turning children into killers jeopardises the future of mankind.” The Prosecutor is seeking to put an end to such crimes, as is his obligation under article 54(1)(b) of the Rome Statute.
The Office of the Prosecutor is currently investigating various crimes committed by a number of armed groups in the Ituri region. In the present case, Pre-Trial Chamber I has examined the evidence and found that it meets the criteria set down in the Rome Statute. The investigation is, however, ongoing and will subsequently lead to other warrants being sought against members of other armed groups active in the Ituri region. The Office of the Prosecutor intends to take a phased approach and this warrant is but the first in a series.
One of the aims of the Office of the Prosecutor is to carry out investigations and to contribute to preventing the commission of crimes in the region. The investigation is being conducted independently and in conjunction with efforts to bolster the activities that need to be undertaken now in order to put an end to the grave crimes being committed by these groups. The objective is to protect the civilian population living in the region.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo referred the situation to the Office of the Prosecutor in March 2004 and the investigation began in June 2004. The Office set up a multinational and multidisciplinary team which has since carried out over 60 missions in the region.
At the outset of the investigation, Ituri was singled out as being one of the most violent regions in the DRC. The investigation made it possible to identify several groups responsible for the violence. The Forces patriotiques pour la libération du Congo (FPLC) emerged as one of the militias which had committed the worst atrocities. The FPLC is the military wing of the Union des patriotes congolais (UPC).
It should be noted that the policy of the Office of the Prosecutor is to focus its efforts and resources on investigating and prosecuting those persons who bear the greatest responsibility. The Office has thus shaped its investigation accordingly. Thomas Lubanga Dyilo founded the UPC in September 2000 and became its president. In September 2002, he set up the FPLC as the military wing of the UPC and became its commander-in-chief.
During the fighting in Ituri, more than 8,000 civilians have died and in excess of 600,000 others have been displaced. In 2002, the FPLC seized control of Bunia and parts of Ituri in Orientale Province. Young children – boys and girls alike – were taken from their families and forced to join the FPLC. They were taken away and trained in camps set up for this purpose.
As president of the UPC and commander-in-chief of the FPLC, Thomas Lubanga Dyilo exercised de facto authority. He had ultimate control over the adoption and implementation of the UPC’s and FPLC’s policies and practices, which consisted, amongst other things, of enlisting and conscripting children under the age of fifteen years into the FPLC and using them to participate actively in hostilities. He was aware of his unique position within the UPC and the FPLC and made active use of it. These are allegations which have yet to be proven.
UNICEF estimates that some 300,000 children are involved in more than 30 conflicts worldwide. Children are used as fighters, messengers, porters and cooks and for forced sexual services. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, an estimated 30,000 children are associated with armed groups, according to UNICEF.
Recent information indicates that armed groups operating in the Democratic Republic of the Congo are still forcing thousands of children – some of whom are no older than ten – to fight and to commit atrocities.