Ajedi-Ka/Projet Enfants
Soldats
Working to Rehabilitate
Child Soldiers in the DRC
A large part of the work of Ajedi-Ka/PES entails awakening the world to the
plight of child soldiers and calling for justice and an end to the impunity in
Eastern DRC that has led to some twenty thousand children being recruited
and used as child soldiers in the DRC, some as young as eight years of age.

Issue

The widespread recruitment and use of child soldiers in the Democratic
Republic of Congo (DRC) is unparalleled throughout Africa. Tens of thousands
of child soldiers have been recruited as combatants by all parties to the conflict,
which has been described as Africa's world war by observers given the
widespread involvement of both continental and international actors.  The
conflict has claimed some four million lives to date.  The International Criminal
Court is investigating war crimes and crimes against humanity in the DRC as
one of its first cases.  The use and recruitment of child soldiers is a war crime
as defined by the Rome Statute of the ICC under article 8(2).

UPDATE: Click here to link to the Issuance of Warrant of Arrest for Thomas
Lubanga Dyilo, issued by the International Criminal Court in 2006


Strategy

In conjunction with Witness, Ajedi-Ka/PES developed a video:  A Duty to
Protect
which advocates for an end to the impunity that reigns in Eastern DRC
and for accountability for crimes committed against children including the use
and recruitment of child soldiers.  
A Duty To Protect calls for increased
support for the ICC within the international community and, particularly, in the
United States.  The campaign also recommends specific measures to strengthen
the work of the ICC in the DRC by calling for a local presence of the Court in
the East and the creation by the Court of systematic outreach and
communication with the local population before, during and after prosecutions.  
A Duty To Protect is directed toward the ICC, US decision makers and the
international community. (For excerpt of this film, click below)







Action

A Duty To Protect
was launched in New York and D.C in April 2005 to
audiences of civil society organizations, UN representatives and Congressional
staffers, amongst others.  The campaign garnered media attention in the US on
NOW with David Brancaccio (PBS), American Morning (CNN), The Leanord
Lopate Show (WNYC), as well as internationally on the German television
series Kulturzeit (3sat),  and Voice of America Radio and Television programs
broadcast in Africa,.  In November 2005, the video was screened at a public
event in The Hague during the Assembly of State Parties to the Rome Statute
and in private meetings between AJEDI-Ka/PES and key personnel at the ICC
such as the Office of the Prosecutor, the investigations team for the DRC and
the Office of the Registrar.  

Results

In March 23, 2006, Thomas Lubanga Dyilo was arrested by the ICC for his
alleged involvement in the commission of war crimes, namely enlisting and
conscripting child soldiers.  The arrest warrant follows a major advocacy drive
by AJEDI-Ka/PES and Witness with
A Duty To Protect at the core of the
campaign.  

Today

As of April 2006, insecurity continues in the Eastern region of the DRC, with
active fighting causing some fifteen thousand people to flee their homes since
the beginning of the year.  The country's first ever presidential elections are
due in June 2006.  Amidst this insecurity, AJEDI-Ka/PES continues to work to
demobilize child soldiers and reintegrate them into their communities.  Using
On the Frontlines, AJEDI-Ka/PES is traveling from village to village to end
voluntary recruitment.
 
"...What is...important are
the consequences of the
presence of children within
the militia. One needs to
understand that the effects
of enlistment into armed
groups go beyond an
individual scope. Mr
Bukeni Beck, the Director
of Association "des jeunes
pour le developpement
integre -Kalundu"
[Ajedi-Ka], and a director
of a film on child soldiers
highlighted that, and I
quote, "The recruitment of
child soldiers is not only a
war crime; it has destroyed
a generation." It could be
added the recruitment of
children has destroyed a
whole region. This
phenomenon has taken
such a scope that the
Security Council of the
United Nations had to
create a child protection
section within MONUC."

Testimony given at the
Trial of Thomas Lubanga
Dyilo, International
Criminal Court, November
9,2006
(full transcript available
here)
Ajedi-Ka screening On the Frontlines at the village of Kabimba in the DRC
Adults, children and members of militia groups watch On the Frontlines
Children responding to the movie....

(above photos courtesy of Heidi Schunmann)
Advocacy