The trial of Thomas Lubanga on war crimes charges that include the conscription of children, the first ever to be heard by the International Criminal Court, has been viewed as an important test of the international court’s credibility and effectiveness. Although the trial began in January 2009, Lubanga has been in ICC detention since March 2006. Beset by procedural hiccups, some observers fear the trial has gone on for too long. Others see the setbacks as a sign that justice is in fact being carried out in a court grappling with its first case.
The most recent appeal in the case will determine whether there will be a stay of proceedings and whether Lubanga will be released unconditionally. International justice observers and survivors await this important decision in international law.
17 July 1998: The International Criminal Court (ICC) is established following the adoption of the Rome Statute by 120 states.
1 July 2002: The Rome Statute enters into force.
19 March 2005: Thomas Lubanga Dyilo is arrested by Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) authorities and imprisoned in the capital, Kinshasa.
10 February 2006: A sealed warrant for Lubanga’s arrest is issued by the ICC’s Pre-Trial Chamber I.
9-28 November 2006: Confirmation of charges hearing is held in the Lubanga case.
17 March 2006: Lubanga’s arrest warrant is unsealed by the ICC and he is arrested and transferred to the ICC in The Hague on charges involving child soldiers.
20 March 2006: Lubanga appears before the Court for the first time.
29 January 2007: ICC judges decide there is sufficient evidence to go to trial.
13 June 2008: The ICC Trial Chamber decides that Lubanga’s right to a fair trial was violated by the prosecutor’s failure to disclose evidence and orders a stay of proceedings.
2 July 2008: Trial Chamber I issues an order for Lubanga’s unconditional release.
11 July 2008: The prosecution asks Trial Chamber I to resume the trial proceedings and reverse the order to release Lubanga.
3 September 2008: Trial Chamber I decides to uphold the stay of proceedings in the case.
21 October 2008: The Appeals Chamber upholds the decision to stay the proceedings, but does not order the release of Lubanga.
18 November 2008: The ICC prosecution agrees to make confidential information available to the Court. As a result, the Trial Chamber reverses its decision and allows the trial to proceed.
26 January 2009: Lubanga’s ICC trial begins in The Hague. This is the first case to come before the ICC.
14 July 2009: The ICC prosecution concludes its case against Lubanga.
8 July 2010: The ICC Trial Chamber orders a stay of proceedings in the case on the grounds that there was an abuse of court procedure.
15 July 2010: ICC trial judges order Lubanga’s unconditional release.
16 July 2010: ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo files an appeal stating that Lubanga might flee if he is released.
23 July 2010: ICC appeal judges rule that Lubanga should remain in detention in The Hague pending the final decision of the appeal filed against the order for his release.
6 August 2010: The prosecution requests that survivors’ lawyers be permitted to participate in the appeal proceedings, including oral hearings.
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