The trial of Congolese rebel leader Thomas Lubanga Dyilo opened today before the International Criminal Court in The Hague. He is charged with having committed war crimes in the eastern Congolese Province of Ituri as head of the "Forces patriotiques pour la libération du Congo" (FPLC). He is in particular alleged to have recruited child soldiers and used them to participate actively in hostilities.
Günter Nooke, the Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid at the Federal Foreign Office, issued the following statement in Berlin today (26 January):
"The first trial before the International Criminal Court represents a milestone in the fight against impunity for the most serious crimes of concern to the international community as a whole. Holding the perpetrators of grievous injustices to account is a contribution to peace and reconciliation. The victims of the conflicts in the Congo must not be forgotten and they must not be marginalized."
The International Criminal Court has recognized 93 persons as victims for the purpose of participating in the case against Thomas Lubanga. For the first time ever, the interests of the victims will be heard directly in an international criminal trial.