On 29 January 2007, Pre-Trial Chamber I of the International Criminal Court (the ICC) handed down its decision confirming the charges brought against Thomas Lubanga Dyilo, the first defendant to appear before the Court. In this and earlier decisions in the case, the Chamber has said a number of interesting things about the admissibility of cases before the Court, the elements of the war crime of child recruitment and the modes of liability under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (the Rome Statute).140 More generally, however, the Chamber's actions also say much about the role the judges of the ICC see themselves as undertaking in the Court's proceedings.
Thomas Lubanga is a national of the Democratic Republic of Congo (the DRC). He describes himself as a politician. It is alleged that from its foundation in 2000 he has been the leader of the Union des patriots congolais (the UPC) and commander-in-chief of its military wing, the Forces patriotiques pour la liberation du Congo (the FPLC). From mid-2002 to the end of 2003, the FPLC was engaged in fighting in the region of Ituri in the DRC. During the conflict, the UPC/FPLC is alleged to have committed numerous atrocities, including the widespread recruitment of children into its ranks.141
The DRC had become a party to the Rome Statute on 11 April 2002 and, accordingly, the Statute entered into force for it on 1 July 2002, the date of the Court's establishment. Following strong hints from the Prosecutor,142 on 19 April 2004 the President of the DRC referrred to the Court ‘the situation of crimes within the juris- diction of the Court allegedly committed anywhere in the territory of the DRC since the entry into force of the Rome Statute’.143 On 23 June 2004, the Prosecutor opened an investigation into the situation, the ICC's first.144 On 19 March 2005, Lubanga was arrested and detained by the DRC authorities, and charged with genocide, crimes against humanity, murder, illegal detention and torture in relation to crimes alleged committed between May 2003 and February 2005. On 17 March 2006, Lubanga was transferred from Congolese custody to that of the ICC.