The day has finally come. And by “the day” I am referring to the long-awaited day that the United Nations’ International Criminal Court (ICC) has convicted a war criminal for the very first time. We’ve only been patiently awaiting this day for a decade (yes, the ICC has existed for a full ten years before convicting an individual), and on July 10th, 2012, our collective hope for justice became tangible. How very appropriate that the convicted is Thomas Lubanga Dyilo, the infamous Congolese warlord. The list of atrocities committed by this doll of a human being is endless – mass murder, rape, torture, mutilation. We also owe it to Mr. Lubanga for the conscription of 3 000 child soldiers aged 8 to 15 in the Congo. It is overwhelmingly reassuring to learn that justice has prevailed, and that this man will no longer be at liberty to harm another human being.
That is, at least not for fourteen years. Or maybe eight.
That’s right. Lubanga will pay for his crimes by serving a sentence of fourteen years. I suppose I should mention that Lubanga was given three sentences of 12, 13, and 14 years, for enlisting, conscripting and using child soldiers, respectively. The honourable Judge, however, awarded these sentences to be served concurrently. Concurrently. And, because Lubanga was arrested six years ago, he will actually serve eight years in prison. I suppose this is no different from the originally suggested sentence of 30 years, which was lessened as suggested by the prosecutors. Yes – the prosecutors.
Justice has prevailed, indeed.
Not all members of the ICC were thrilled with the groundbreaking sentence. Judge Odio Benito contested that Lubanga’s sentence should be fifteen years, acknowledging the victims of his regime.
A palpable solution. Clearly, one extra year in prison is all that would be needed to ignite a virtuous spark from within Lubanga. One extra year in prison is all that would be needed to recognize the 60 000 people who were, according to Human Rights Watch, killed during the contentions between Hema and Lendu ethnic groups, otherwise known as the Ituri conflict, heavily precipitated by the Union of Congolese Patriots led by… I wonder who? Yes, one year indeed is the proper solution. I boldly suggest we all write letters to our respective governments suggesting one extra year of imprisonment for all prisoners around the globe. After all, if one year will make criminals compassionate, I am sure we would all deem this solution worthy of taxpayers’ dollars.
And, we must all remember that Lubanga’s family has suffered. Truly suffered. People cannot seem to forget about the thousands of child soldiers for one moment to remember that Lubanga is a human being, for goodness’ sake! After all, the most distressing response to Lubanga’s judgment would be that of his sister, Angele Zasi. As Zasi heart-wrenchingly stated, “We are very disappointed by the judgment of the court. Everyone knows that my brother is innocent of all that they reproach him.” I think we would all agree that Zasi deserves recognition for her bravery during this difficult time. I’m sure her pain is unimaginable. No one else in the Democratic Republic of the Congo could have possibly been subjected to agony as intense as hers.
Let’s return to the subject of law. Now that our faith in justice has been effectually restored, I’m sure we wouldn’t be surprised if the defense appealed this wholly appropriate sentence. I suppose Lubanga could plead insanity, right? I mean, it’s not as though he has a degree in psychology, or anything.
Oh no, wait. He does. And it should be noted that presiding Judge Adrian Fulford stated that Lubanga being an “intelligent and well educated person” was a significant reason for his guilty verdict.
It is reassuring to know that intelligent war criminals in particular are being held accountable for their crimes. God forbid the day an idiotic war criminal is found guilty.
The ICC has come a long way, indeed. We should all be thankful for our restored sense of justice and rule of law. Now I’m just dying to learn the outcome of Ratko Mladic’s trial. I’m betting on two years. After all, the Bosnian Genocide was simply a minor blip in history.