Lubanga Dyilo conviction and sentencing to restore credibility to the ICC

The conviction and sentencing of Thomas Lubanga Dyilo will be significant to maintain – and possibly restore – the credibility of the world's only permanent international criminal tribunal, the International Criminal Court.

On Tuesday 10 July, the Trial Chamber of the ICC will hand down its sentence on the former Democratic Republic of the Congo rebel leader, Thomas Lubanga Dyilo.

Steven Freeland, UWS Professor of International Law, has been a Visiting Professional within the Appeals Chamber of the ICC, The Hague, and a Special Advisor to the Danish Foreign Ministry in matters related to the Court.

Professor Freeland notes 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. This was the first conviction ever handed down by the ICC.

“As well as handing down its sentence, the Trial Chamber may also make an order relating to reparations to victims of Lubanga Dyilo’s crimes, which would be the first such order made by an international criminal tribunal,” says Professor Freeland.

“This unique feature of the ICC underscores the importance of recognising the need to involve victims in the accountability process for such crimes.”

Professor Freeland says the sentencing hearing comes at an important time for the ICC. This month marks the tenth anniversary of the Court, which has had to deal with recent difficulties arising from the detention of Australian lawyer Melinda Taylor, and three other ICC colleagues, by rebel forces in Zintan, Libya.

“After protracted negotiations, and a statement of 'regret' by the Court, the four were eventually released,” says Professor Freeland.

“However, the negotiations that led to their release have also raised a number of concerns and are perceived in some circles to have weakened the ICC's position with regard to the prosecution of persons accused of committing serious crimes. They may also have unintentionally compromised the defence rights of Saif Al-Islam Gadaffi.”

“It is therefore very important that the Court send a strong, positive message to the world that it can be an effective mechanism to address grave international crimes.”


9 July 2012

Contact: Kristy Gleeson, Media Officer