Lubanga appeals ruling requestions ICC fairness

03 December 2014 by Benjamin Duerr, The Hague (The Netherlands)

This week the International Criminal Court (ICC), on appeal, upheld its first-ever verdict. However, the decision once again raises questions about the work of the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) and the accused’s right to a fair trial.

Thomas Lubanga at his appeals verdict (Flickr/ICC-CPI)
Image caption: 
Thomas Lubanga at his appeals verdict (Flickr/ICC-CPI)

Judge Anita Usacka’s words were clear: “I would have reversed the conviction.” On Monday, the Latvian magistrate delivered a strong dissenting opinion after the appeals chamber confirmed Congolese warlord Thomas Lubanga’s guilt and 14-year sentence. With that final judgment rendered, the ICC closed the Lubanga file. It was the very first verdict of the court in The Hague [IJT blog].

Lubanga had led the Union des Patriotes Congolais (UPC) militia in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s troubled Ituri province. In 2012, he was convicted of war crimes, consisting of enlisting and conscripting child soldiers. Lubanga appealed, arguing that, among other things, the charges were insufficiently detailed and the trial was unfair since the prosecution did not investigate carefully enough.

In their appeals judgment, a majority of judges rejected those allegations. They also said they would not reassess the evidence and would have intervened only if the lower trial chamber assessment was unreasonable.

“The Lubanga disaster”

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