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Congolese child soldier recruiter jailed

JAILED FOR WAR CRIMES: Thomas Lubanga

AT THE International Criminal Court (ICC) at the Hague in Holland, Congolese warlord Thomas Lubanga was sentenced to 14 years in prison today (July 10).

Back in March the 51-year-old from the Democratic Republic of Congo was found guilty of conscripting child soldiers under the age of 15 and forcing them into war in the city of Ituri in 2002-2003.

The sentencing is considered a milestone since it is the first to be issued by the permanent court in The Hague, and because it is expected to set a war crimes law precedent in awarding damages for victims.

Children as young as 11 were taken from their homes and schools and forced to fight. They were also were beaten and drugged while young girls were used as sex slaves.

Lubanga has been in the ICC’s custody since 2006. He has the right to appeal.

"The sentence against Lubanga should be fair and reflect the gravity of the crimes for which he was convicted,” said international justice advocacy director at Human Rights Watch Géraldine Mattioli-Zeltner prior to sentencing.

“Lubanga's sentence is important not only for the victims who want justice done, but also as a warning to those who use child soldiers around the world."

An estimated 60,000 people were killed in the conflict between two opposing ethnic groups in Ituri.

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