In a hearing this morning, International Criminal Court (ICC) judges read a decision awarding 297 victims of crimes committed by former Congolese militia leader Germain Katanga a symbolic compensation of USD 250 per victim. Victims were also awarded collective reparations in the form of support for housing, support for income-generating activities, education aid, and psychological support. In reaching their decision, judges took into account the needs of all victims and consultations undertaken with them and sought to ensure their safety, physical, and psychological well‑being and privacy.
This is significant because it is only the second time in the court’s history that an award for reparations has been ordered, and it is the first time that the court has awarded reparations to individual victims.
Judges assessed the extent of the physical, material, and psychological harm suffered by the victims at a total monetary value of approximately USD 3,752,620. However, the judges recalled that the convicted person’s liability must be established in accordance not only to the harm suffered but also to his participation in the crimes. On that basis, judges Marc Perrin de Brichambaut (presiding), Olga Herrera Carbuccia, and Péter Kovács set the amount of Katanga’s liability at USD 1,000,000.
At the individual level, judges stressed that the symbolic reparation of USD 250 per victim was not meant to compensate for the entirety of the harm suffered. Rather, it should be considered as “relief” for the suffering. The chamber had received a total of 341 applications for reparations, but it considered that only 297 of them presented sufficient evidence and therefore only they qualified for reparations.
Nonetheless, judges noted the difficulties victims faced to prove the harm they suffered in the context of war and the amount of time elapsed since the crimes occurred. The judges considered that victims did not only suffer material harm, such as destruction of homes, farms, and property, but also loss of cattle and harvest. Furthermore, the victims suffered physical and psychological harm.
Because Katanga was found indigent by the court, the Trust Fund for Victims (TFV) is expected to consider utilizing its resources for the reparations and to present an implementation plan by June 2017. Katanga’s financial situation will, however, continue to be monitored by the ICC and should he acquire funds in the future, he can be asked to pay the TFV back.
The chamber recalled that orders on reparations such as today’s are without prejudice to the state’s responsibility for reparations. It ordered the TFV to contact authorities in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to discuss its possible contribution and cooperation for the implementation of the awarded reparations.
The first reparations order by the ICC took place following the conviction of Thomas Lubanga. In that case, € 1 million (USD 1.06 million) has been earmarked by the TFV for collective reparations to victims of Lubanga’s crimes – also in Congo’s Ituri district.
Katanga is the former leader of the Force de Résistance Patriotique en Ituri (FRPI, Patriotic Resistance Forces in Ituri). He was found guilty, as an accessory, for a February 2003 attack on civilians in Bogoro, a village in eastern DRC, during ethnic conflict. In May 2014, he was sentenced to 12 years imprisonment, which was later reduced to by one third and completed in January 2016. Upon his release, authorities in the DRC initiated national prosecution proceedings against him, and he is currently detained at a prison in the country’s capital, Kinshasa.
Parties and participants in Katanga’s trial have 30 days to file any appeals against today’s order.