Lubanga Sentenced to Fourteen Years
Thomas Lubanga Dyilo, the first person convicted at the ICC, has been sentenced to fourteen years in prison. From the Court’s press release:
Today, Trial Chamber I of the International Criminal Court (ICC) sentenced Thomas Lubanga Dyilo to a total period of 14 years of imprisonment. The Chamber, composed of Judge Adrian Fulford, Judge Elizabeth Odio Benito and Judge René Blattmann, also ordered that the time from Mr Lubanga’s surrender to the ICC on 16 March 2006 until today should be deducted from this sentence. Mr Lubanga Dyilo was found guilty, on 14 March 2012, of conscripting and enlisting children under the age of 15 and using them to participate in hostilities in the Ituri region in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, from 1 September 2002 to 13 August 2003.
Readers can find an excellent summary of the decision at IntLawGrrls here. Fourteen years seems about right given the relatively unserious nature of the war-crimes charges against Lubanga (compared to things like murder and rape), although the sentence no doubt comes as a disappointment to the OTP, which asked for 30 years. Lubanga’s six-year incarceration means that he will be a free man at a relatively young age; in fact, pursuant to Article 110(3) of the Rome Statute, the Court will review his sentence for possible reduction in just five years.
Scholars and NGOs have consistently criticized Moreno-Ocampo for not charging Lubanga with more serious crimes. Indeed, because Lubanga was facing much more serious charges in the DRC — genocide and crimes against humanity, including murder — I cite his case in a recent article as a primary example of why the ICC’s “same conduct” test for complementarity is counterproductive. The traditional defense of Moreno-Ocampo’s decision was that the conscription and enlistment charges were relatively easy to prove, making it likely that the trial would result in a quick and unproblematic conviction. As regular readers know, reality proved to be far messier (see, for example, here and here).
I wonder whether Moreno-Ocampo is regretting his decision not to pursue more serious charges…