Bukeni Waruzi, Program Manager for Africa and the Middle East at WITNESS, and a long-time advocate for children’s rights in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) reacted with relief and hope to the guilty verdict of former rebel leader Thomas Lubanga Dyilo announced at the International Criminal Court (ICC) earlier today.
At the ICC in The Hague, Bukeni witnessed the judge’s delivery of the verdict and participated in the press briefing held afterwards.
“I’m so proud today to see that the work that WITNESS and AJEDI-Ka carried out in the Congo, advocating for the rights of children not to be used as soldiers, has paid off,” he beamed. (Before WITNESS he was the executive director of AJEDI-Ka with whom we partnered to produce several videos on the situation of child soldiers in the DRC.)
We recored a conversation with Bukeni via Google+ Hangout following the proceedings. He answered questions about the verdict’s meaning for international justice and affected communities in the eastern DRC; the role video played in bringing charges against Lubanga; and his message to the many children he worked with- negotiating their release from militias and through providing services to assist in their rehabilitation and reintegration- “What was improbable for them, is now real…”