Iturians question ICC head

23 December 2009 by Hélène Michaud

It might seem like just another village meeting, but the presence of armed police at the local parish hall suggests something serious is going on.

The residents of the village of Fataki have gathered to hear the president of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Judge Sang-Hyun Song, who is visiting the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) this week for the first time.

A native son
This is Thomas Lubanga territory. The ICC’s highest official has come to explain why the ex-militia leader, born in a nearby village and considered a native son, is now standing trial for war crimes and crimes against humanity 6,000 kilometers away in The Hague.

The 250 residents, local leaders and representatives of local associations listen attentively as he outlines why the ICC was set up and how it works. He lists some of the crimes tried at the court under international law.

“It is illegal to target civilians with military force...to terrorise civilian populations, to rape women and girls... to forcefully recruit children under the age of 15 into an armed force and make them fight.”
Lubanga is accused of enlisting and conscripting children under 15 years old and using them to participate actively in hostilities.

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