Yesterday, the International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague convicted the Congolese warlord Thomas Lubanga of war crimes for using children as soldiers. And while this victory lies outside of Overbrook’s geographic grantmaking focus, it is an extremely important decision as a standard for international human rights and justice systems. Additionally, one of our grantees, WITNESS, has long been involved in building the case against Mr. Lubanga and providing video evidence of the devastating human rights violations under his command. WITNESS uses video advocacy to effectively document human rights violations and to support human rights advocacy campaigns. As seen in this case, the organization is also active in collecting and producing footage of human rights violations to be used in trial settings. In this case, WITNESS’ Program Manager for Africa and the Middle East, Bukeni Waruzi, provided video interviews with and footage of child soldiers impacted by this warlord. Please click here to view some of these videos and other videos associated with WITNESS’ campaign against using children as soldiers.
If you would like more information on this decision, WITNESS has asked us to share several links on this verdict and its significance, mainly articles from mainstream news sources and information on their campaigns. First, you can read more about the verdict in print through an article from the New York Times or an article from the BBC. Second, you can listen to the details of the case through a report from BBC World Service, “Newshour”. Finally, you can learn more about WITNESS’ ongoing campaign against child soldiers, their contribution to the case, and their views of the significance of this verdict by visiting the campaign’s webpage or their blog.
Based on communication with WITNESS and these news articles, we can see that the critical role of video in this court case was undeniable. Mr. Waruzi reported that “when the judge was pronouncing the verdict he went through the crucial evidences that were used: they were videos. At some point he said, ‘Unable to dispute visual images and deny the sound, the video evidences presented to us were credible and outstanding.” Technologies, like video and social media, are becoming incredibly important for bringing about the enforcement of human rights. It is good to see that the years of work on this case by WITNESS and many others has paid off in this administration of justice, which may even pressure further action from the international community against similar criminals around the world.