Human rights groups hailed Lubanga’s verdict as a validation of the ICC, which has taken criticism for its lengthy process, and for its penchant for focusing on African war crimes, rather than those in the Middle East, Asia, or the richer countries of the West.
Human Rights Watch said that the Lubanga verdict should be a warning to other military commanders, including Lubanga's own co-accused, Bosco Ntaganda, who is currently a general in the Congo Army in Goma.
“The verdict against Lubanga is a victory for the thousands of children forced to fight in Congo’s brutal wars,” said Géraldine Mattioli-Zeltner, international justice advocacy director at Human Rights Watch, in a statement. “Military commanders in Congo and elsewhere should take notice of the ICC’s powerful message: using children as a weapon of war is a serious crime that can lead them to the dock.”
Don Kraus, chief executive officer of Citizens for Global Solutions, greeted the decision, saying in a statement, “Lubanga’s guilty verdict is a landmark moment in the short history of the Court. For the first time in the history of humanity, nations have come together and established a permanent means of holding tyrants and human rights abusers accountable, while providing a fair system of justice, even for the most heinous crimes. This is how we build a safer, more secure world.”