Spindelegger: “We must send an unmistakeable message to those who use child soldiers”
Austrian Foreign Minister welcomes the judgment of the International Criminal Court
Vienna, 14 March 2012 – “The conviction of Thomas Lubanga Dyilo is a major stride forward for international criminal justice and an important message that the international community is very serious in its struggle against the recruitment and deployment of child soldiers”, Austrian Vice Chancellor and Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger said in a first reaction to the judgement of the International Criminal Court this morning against the Congolese rebel leader Thomas Lubanga Dyilo. “Crimes of this nature must not go unpunished. The judgement is an important message with an effect extending far beyond the Democratic Republic of Congo.”
Central Court I of the International Criminal Court (ICC) ruled in a first judgment that Thomas Lubanga Dyilo is guilty of recruiting children under the age of 15 years between September 2002 and August 2003 and of deploying these child soldiers in conflicts in Ituri Province, Democratic Republic of Congo. Sentencing will follow at a later court session.
Austria has given consistent and rigorous support at international level for improved protection of children in armed conflicts over many years – also during Austrian membership of the UN Security Council in 2009/10 – and has repeatedly demanded an end to any serious crimes against humanity going unpunished. “Austria was among the first supporters of the court of justice at international level that has been operating since 2003. Austria has also regularly spoken out to demand that its scope and powers are strengthened. The fact that the first judgement of the International Court of Justice has been so clear is an encouraging signal in the international struggle against impunity and war crimes” Spindelegger said.
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