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(Mis)interpreting the Statute? The International Criminal Court, the Sentence of Life Imprisonment and Other Emerging Sentencing Issues: A Comment on the Trial Chamber I Decision on the Sentence in Prosecutor v. Thomas Lubanga Dyilo

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On 14 March 2012, Trial Chamber I of the International Criminal Court, ICC, in its first ever decision, convicted Mr Thomas Luganga Dyilo, as a coperpetrator, of ‘conscripting and enlisting children under the age of fifteen years into the UPC/FPLC and using them to participate actively in hostilities…’ On 10 July 2012, the Trial Chamber sentenced him to an effective term of 14 years’ imprisonment. In passing the sentence, the Trial Chamber held, inter alia, that in terms of the Rome Statute of the ICC, in cases where it sentences an offender to prison for a specified number of years, the sentence must not exceed 30 years’ imprisonment. The Trial Chamber also equated life imprisonment with ‘whole life.’ It is argued that in the light of the drafting history of the Rome Statute, the Trial Chamber incorrectly interpreted the Statute in those two respects. It is also argued that the ICC should have indicated which purpose the sentence it imposed was meant to serve.

Affiliations: 1: Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Law, University of the Western Cape (UWC) Research Fellow, Community Law Centre, UWC, South Africa


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