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

How Do You Spot A Nonconformist? You Can Start With Their Internet Browser

According to Adam Grant, a person's preferred browser is one way to tell whether they accept or reject the defaults in their life. His new book is called Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World.
NPR

Calif. Restaurant Gives Diners Ocean View — Up Close

The Marine Room is a restaurant right on the beach. When the tide is high, waves will literally hit the windows.
NPR

Clinton And Sanders Test New Campaign Tactics Ahead Of New Hampshire

Hillary Clinton is trailing Bernie Sanders in New Hampshire. The way they're campaigning in that state ahead of Tuesday's primary tells you something about how they're positioned in the race.
NPR

Super Bowl 50 Tightens Cybersecurity

This year's Super Bowl will be held in the most technologically advanced stadium in the world. FBI special agent John Lightfoot talks to NPR's Rachel Martin about the threat of cyber attacks.

Leave a Comment

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