THE HAGUE, Mar 14 – Hollywood star and activist Angelina Jolie greeted the conviction of a Congolese warlord Wednesday, praising the Hague court for its “strong message against the use of child soldiers”.
The International Criminal Court in its first verdict found Thomas Lubanga, 51, guilty of abducting and conscripting children as young as 11 to fight and kill in a conflict in a gold-rich region of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
After watching from the front row of the public gallery, Jolie in a statement said that “the delivery of the ICC’s first verdict is an important moment for the court, for the DRC and for the rule of law”.
“Most of all, it sends a strong message against the use of child soldiers,” she said, adding that she hoped the conviction would also “provide some measure of comfort for the victims”.
Known for her humanitarian work around the world, and her campaigning against the use of child soldiers, Jolie is funding the “Lubanga Chronicles”, a public information campaign in the DRC on the trial.
The Lubanga chronicles have spread news of the landmark proceedings through the distribution of written reports, short audio clips played on local radio stations, and short videos on the Internet.
Jolie, who wore a grey two-piece business suit in court, listened intently from behind the glass partition as Judge Adrian Fulford read the verdict, 10 years after the tribunal was launched.
The actress and director left the courtroom via a service elevator after the hearing. It was her fourth visit to the court’s fortress-like headquarters in a southern suburb of The Hague.
Previously, she attended the testimony of a child soldier and a victim as well as the closing arguments last August.