The Trial of Thomas Lubanga

Introduction

ICC took eight years for pronouncement of verdict since the commencement of the trial. It was very first case that was tried at International Criminal Court and distinctly stands historic because it had impacted immensely on creating the precedence with enforcement to International Criminal Law.

This segment of the Internal will deals with the history of Lubanga Trial with due emphasis laid on its Verdict Efficacy. It will highlight various facets with regard to implementation and way ahead as resulted to constitute the outcome of the Proceeding through:

1) Procedural History highlighting the Persona of Thomas Lubanga;
2) Stalling of Trial Twice;
3) Prosecution and Defence Contentions at the ICC Proceedings;
4) Gravity of Charges Imposed
5) Application of Principles and Statutory Provisions and mitigating the interpretational gaps.

Lubanga Dyilo case

[Image Sources : Shutterstock]

Historical Background

Thomas Lubanga, at 40 became President of UPC and Commander Head of Military Wing. He served in one of the armed groups and provoked the armed conflict near the border between the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Uganda—in Ituri. (Hoschchild, 2012)
On 10th July 2012, ICC convicted and sentenced the former President of UPC to 14 years of imprisonment for the war crimes of enlisting, conscripting, and using children under fifteen to fight in the conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. (I, 2012) Lubanga was the first trial to be discussed at length by the ICC and possibly to be figured as world’s first permanent court to try war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. The ruling was delivered in trilogy series and was dealt extensively on terms of ban on child solders, credibility of evidence, and sentencing and reparations.

Trial Narratives

During the early stages of Investigation, Lubanga was kept under detained custody for unsaid number of days. However, at later stage, ICC had collected strong evidence to charge with the crimes including of sexual violence. Eventually, everything boiled down to the charge of use of child soldier. In Pre-Trial Chamber, the striking issue mainly revolved around whether the evidence sufficed to convict the accused. Rome Statute is peculiarly been silent on version of standard of proof. However, the defence took the stand of limit of scope of evidence that was presented during the trial. Yet the court placed the reliance on the dubio pro reo principle so that aggravating and mitigating factors were ruled to solidified “balance of probabilities”. (Fulford)
Delays as natural practice of law courts were caused due to appeal during the trials for procedural issues related to disclosure of evidence and merits of the information produced by the Prosecutor. (Radio, 2012)

Prosecution

In the closing statements, it was well descriptive that Lubanga was guilty of war crimes beyond reasonable doubt and argued vehemently on recruitment of children in armed rebellion cause was well-prepared plan. As Commander of Military Wing, it was noticed that young female soldiers were sexually exploited and no impunity could be ever granted for such misconduct. Furthermore, the plan was executed in mindset of assuming control in Ituri and could be done by involving large number of trained soldiers as deployed in inter-ethnic conflict. For evidentiary presence, a video was displayed that uncovered the training camp with minors. (W.Cohen, 2012)

Defense

Accused pleaded Not Guilty. He contended that he hasn’t been General Commander of UPC and he served to political issues and did not had any active participation for Military wing. The defence closed the statements with the false narration of witness testimonies and intermediaries. Not been aware of enlistment of child soldiers took place and prevented the recruitment in every possible way. In unsworn statement, Lubanga said that Prosecution had twisted the actions against him and neglected the practice of protection of Congolese citizens. (W.Cohen, 2012)

Held

On account of alleged charges, the Pre-Trial Chamber had issued warrant against him and held that evidence was sufficiently enough. In terms of Fair and Public Trial, the court relied on ICC Statute and stated that victim(s) could be subjected to participate in the early stages of investigation/trial.

Critical Analysis

During the Lubanga preliminary, the entire world watched as the ICC struggled to resolve a number of complex fair treatment problems including friction between the Court’s many organs. Emotional twists included witnesses presenting false testimony, statements between the Trial Chamber and the prosecution, two separate requests for Lubanga’s delivery, and a plea by Lubanga’s defence team to permanently halt proceedings due to abuse of process.
The Lubanga Trial Chamber worked valiantly for the emancipation of accused. When the Prosecutor’s support for victims and intention to safeguard observers and information sources was so out of the ordinary that it made people question whether the trial was fair, both the Trial Chamber and the Appeals Chamber stood by the Prosecutor. The Trial Chamber wouldn’t run a preliminary hearing where the accused’s rights were limited in any way, even if it meant the unqualified arrival of a charged person. (I, 2012)

Since it was the first case ever brought before the Court, and since the ICC is an institution that operates very differently from any domestic court, on a globalstage fraught with complicated calculated and political considerations, the most memorable case presented significant challenges to the young organisation. Even though the ICC may have to hold hearings in areas devastated by war or extreme atrocities, where witnesses fear for their lives, the Court’s procedure adhered to the highest international standards. (Cassese A. , 2013)
This case stands as an exemplary for universal jurisdiction. The verdict was not delivered in unanimous nature with respect to arguments presented in the International Criminal Court.

Conclusion

In a way, the Lubanga Dyilo case will be the building block for how the ICC works in the future. So, it seems likely that the Lubanga Dyilo case will set a precedent for future cases of the Court and will be brought up in every similar case. A few parts of the precedential value could be looked at in the policy section of investigations and prosecutions of victims as individuals in the procedures, even during the examination period of procedures. (Cassese A. , 1998)

It will also be possible for the international community to notice that the councils for the Former Yugoslavia and Rwanda will be affected by how the International Criminal Court (ICC) interprets and applies the standard principles of International Criminal Law. Overall, the ICC’s actions will be judged in some domestic or local criminal cases. This is because the ICC’s jurisdiction is universal and the same is true for public criminal cases.

Author: Aditi Borkar, 4th Year student at Symbiosis Law School, Pune, in case of any queries please contact/write back to us via email to chhavi@khuranaandkhurana.com or at Khurana & Khurana, Advocates and IP Attorney.

Reference

BIBLIOGRAPHY
Cassese, A. (1998). Reflection on International Criminal Justice. MOD REV, (p. 61).
Cassese, A. (2013). Reflection of International Criminal Law. Cassess’s International Criminal Law, 53-54.
Fulford, J. A. (n.d.). Judgment ., (pp. para 34,59,76,78,81).
Hoschchild, A. (2012). The Trial of Thomas Lubanga . The Atlantic Magazine , para 31.
I, T. C. (2012). Democratic Republic of Congo, Prosecutor v. Lubanga, ICC . Article 76 of Statute .
Radio, N. P. (2012). Congo Faces the Specter of Civil War. LEXIS . News Library .
W.Cohen. (2012). The Trial of Thomas Lubanga at the ICC. OPEN SOCIETY JUSTICE INITIATIVE, 1-12.

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