Freedom House welcomes the International Criminal Court (ICC)’s guilty verdict for Congolese warlord Thomas Lubanga, who recruited and used children as young as nine years old as personal bodyguards and soldiers in 2002 and 2003. This is the first verdict handed down by the ICC since it was founded ten years ago, demonstrating that the institution does have the power to bring some of the world’s worst human rights offenders to justice.
After a wave of recent violence resulting in several injuries and the death of one person, authorities in Kinshahsa— a state in the Democratic Republic of Congo— have imposed a five-day ban on political protests. Police used tear gas and gunfire to silence protests related to the upcoming November election, targeting in particular supporters of opposition party the Union for Democracy and Social Progress (UDPS). UDPS’ headquarters were attacked on September 13 by supporters of President Joseph Kabila’s Party for Reconstruction and Democracy –PPRD accused UDPS of previously setting fire to its headquarters.
Freedom House released an analysis of democracy in sub-Saharan Africa showing that the region has experienced notable increases in freedom over the past generation, although more setbacks than gains were seen in 2006.