This post is based on content originally posted on WITNESS.
On March 14, 2012, the International Criminal Court found Thomas Lubanga, a former rebel leader in the eastern Congo, guilty of using children in armed conflict – a war crime. This is a major milestone for international justice, for victims in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and for video for change.
In the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, where civil war has taken more than four million lives, children as young as six are routinely recruited by militias and taught to kill. It is estimated that children, most between 8 and 16 years old, make up 60% of combatants in the region.
A 5-minute video by WITNESS called “A Duty to Protect” was screened early on in the court proceedings, and was credited by the judge for having played a role in the outcome along with other visual evidence. It tells the story of Mafille and January, two young girls who were recruited into the military. The video looks at the effects of child recruitment on families and the broader community.
WITNESS staff member, Bukeni Waruzi, originally from the eastern DRC and a long-time human rights advocate, was in The Hague to hear the verdict. He appeared in a Q&A with journalists following the verdict on March 14 explaining among other things the importance of video in the trial.
In the video below, uploaded by WITNESS to YouTube on March 13, the day before, Bukeni speaks with Madeleine, a former child soldier of the eastern DRC who he demobilized when she was 15 and then adopted. In 2007, she testified at the UN to share her experiences as a child soldier.
Bukeni and Madeleine discuss their hopes for the outcome of the Lubanga trial and hopes justice will be served for child soldiers everywhere.