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January 27, 2009
First trial brings Congolese warlord to The Hague

The International Criminal Court began its first trial in The Hague.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) was established in 2002 to prosecute serious war crimes and is now holding its first trial.

Congolese militia leader Thomas Lubanga is accused of “enlisting children under the age of 15” to fight in the Congolese civil war. He has has pled not guilty. 

Read more of our coverage of the crisis in Congo

Blogger “Jonathan Fryer” calls the trial “historic,” hoping it puts pressure on world leaders like President Barack Obama to join the ICC, which was shunned by the Bush administration. 

The “Static and Me” blog calls the trial “momentous,” since Lubanga would not have been prosecuted in Congo

Blogger “Dennis Doyle” explains why the trial was delayed, writing that the decision to stay the trial reflects the court’s integrity. 

“The Essayist” blog writes that while Lubanga’s trial offers some hope for justice, other war criminals will no doubt replace him

Blogger “Matthew Tostevin” notes that all of the ICC’s arrest warrants have been for Africans, wondering if the court is targeting the continent disproportionately

The “Things Seen and Heard” blog explores the same question, concluding that in many cases it was the African governments that requested the ICC’s help.

Below, watch a video from The Hub featuring Bukeni Tete Waruzi, a native of eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, and his response to the trial:

For more on U.S. opposition to the ICC, see PBS Wide Angle’s interview with Ambassador Pierre-Richard Prosper of the Office of War Crimes Issues.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Michplay under a Creative Commons license.

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