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Criminal charge in child soldier
case a milestone in protecting children||
Unicef Press Centre
18 March 2006
NEW YORK,United States of America -
Friday’s arrest of Thomas Lubanga by the International Criminal
Court, on a charge of conscripting and enlisting children and
actively using them in hostilities in the Democratic Republic of
Congo, sends an important message that the international community
will not tolerate the use of children in armed conflict, UNICEF
said. It shows the high priority that the international community
gives to combating crimes against children.
“It is important to protect children from being recruited and
used in armed conflict,” UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman
said. “Wars must never be fought by children. Whether children are
forcibly recruited, join armed groups in order to escape poverty or
hunger, or enlist to actively support a cause, the first loss is
UNICEF estimates that at any given time, up to 300,000 children
globally are being used in armed groups and forces in a variety of
roles, including as combatants, cooks, porters, messengers, spies
and for sexual purposes.
Lubanga, a Congolese national and alleged founder and leader of
the Union des Patriotes Congolais (UPC), was arrested in Kinshasa on
Friday and transferred to the International Criminal Court in The
Hague as part of the judicial proceedings under the Rome Statute.
Entered into force in July 2002, the Rome Statute makes the
conscription, enlistment or use of children under 15 in hostilities
by national armed forces or armed groups a war crime.
Under the Rome Statute, individuals can be held criminally
accountable. Lubanga is the first person to be arrested and
transferred to the International Criminal Court since the entry into
force of the Rome Statute.
UNICEF has a long history of assisting and protecting children in
times of conflict. UNICEF advocates for the national adoption of
international legal standards that limit the participation of
children in armed conflict, works to secure the release of child
soldiers, and supports disarmament, demobilization and reintegration
programmes in such countries as Afghanistan, Liberia and Democratic
Republic of Congo.