NPR : News

Filed Under:

The Spotlight Shines On Another Central African Warlord

There's been a major development involving a notorious warlord from Central Africa who snatched thousands of children and sent them to war on his behalf.

No, we're not talking about Joseph Kony, the Ugandan rebel leader who was catapulted to international infamy last week when an American group posted a YouTube video that was viewed by tens of millions within days.

This case involves Thomas Lubanga of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda's neighbor to the West. The International Criminal Court at The Hague convicted Lubanga on Wednesday of recruiting kids, sometimes by force, to fight for his Union of Congolese Patriots in the Congo's long and brutal civil conflict.

Though he's not widely known, Lubanga's case is noteworthy on several counts.

Lubanga's conviction was the first handed down by the ICC in the 10 years since it was established.

"The prosecution has proved beyond reasonable doubt that Mr. Thomas Lubanga is guilty of the crimes of conscripting and enlisting children under the age of 15 years and using them to participate actively in hostilities," said the presiding judge, Adrian Fulford, according to the AP.

Among those in the public gallery at The Hague was actress Angelina Jolie.

"This is their day — where these children will feel there is no impunity for what happened to them, for what they suffered," Jolie was quoted as saying by The Associated Press.

Coming just days after the video on Kony that went viral, the verdict again draws attention to the nasty wars that have plagued Central Africa for the past quarter-century.

Kony's group began terrorizing Ugandans back in 1986. Rwanda was ravaged by a genocide in 1994. Congo's ruinous civil conflicts first began in 1996. The region is less violent today, but is still plagued by instability and various armed groups.

While Lubanga's verdict is a landmark for the ICC, there are still questions about how effective the court will be. ICC prosecutors have opened seven prosecutions and have five suspects in custody. The first person indicted back in 2006 was Kony. His exact whereabouts are unknown but one place he and his child soldiers might be is the Congo.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

'Star Wars' Editors Defy Hollywood Conventions

In a film industry often dominated by men, there's at least one exception: Many editors are women. Maryann Brandon and Mary Jo Markey speak about their work on the new Star Wars.
NPR

Florida Says Its Fruits, Vegetables Are Safe From Invasive Fruit Fly

Since September, Florida has been fighting an infestation of the Oriental fruit fly, an invasive pest that threatened more than 400 crops. The state declared the insect eradicated as of Saturday.
NPR

7 Things To Know About Presidential Appointments To The Supreme Court

Republicans are adamant they will stop anyone President Obama names to replace for Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court. It's possible Obama's nominee would face the longest wait in history for a vote.
NPR

West Point Students' Plan To Counter ISIS Online Strategy

The State Department sponsored a contest to find the best ways to combat ISIS propaganda online. A group of cadets from West Point got second prize. Rachel Martin speaks with team member CJ Drew.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.