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Reactions of Congolese Victims to the Prospect of Reparations in the Lubanga Case

The below article is from our partner at Radio Canal Révélation, a radio station based in Bunia, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The article was produced as part of the radio station’s Interactive Radio for Justice and Peace Project, which promotes discussion on critical issues around justice in DRC.

The victims of crimes committed by Thomas Lubanga within the Lendu community in Ituri Province have welcomed the decision of the Trust Fund for Victims (the Fund) that allocated one million Euros to collective reparations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

“We agree to the Fund building stadiums, healthcare centers, repairing our roads… this is going to make us forget the crimes of the past… [I]n spite of everything, we are brothers, we need them… What happened were mistakes of the past,” said KB, the President of the Lendu community in the Tsili group, a Walendu Jatsi community.

On February 13, 2017, the Fund provided the court with an update on the subject of reparation measures to the victims of crimes committed by Lubanga.

Thomas Lubanga, the leader of the militia group, the Union of Congolese Patriots (UPC), was sentenced to 14 years in prison in 2012, for the enlistment, conscription, and use of children under the age of 15 in his army.

Some victims were already feeling abandoned and discouraged as these reparations are arriving 10 or so years after the crimes committed in Ituri.

“The victims have concerns [or needs]. They say that each time the ICC delegation arrives, they are asked to be patient. In spite of this, they don’t have negative reactions. They simply observe,” said JN, the Secretary of the Tsili group.

However, the Fund has financed projects, implemented by non-governmental organizations (NGOs), in order to provide support to some victims in the context of its assistance program, according to the declarations made by Pieter de Baan, the Executive Director of the Fund, during his visit to Ituri in February 2017.

“The victims were leading difficult lives but with the arrival of the NGO, Association of Anti Bwaki Mothers [Association des Mamans Anti Bwaki (AMAB)], financed by the Fund since 2007, they have received machines, farm animals, and agricultural kits in order to [make their lives easier]. I myself am a victim. I have a field that enables me to feed my children and to send them to school,” asserted EM, a victim.

The Fund has also financed several projects in the Djugu and Irumu territories in order to provide psychological and medical support to the victims (especially the victims of sexual abuse), and even to facilitate the creation of mutual assistance associations for victims.

These projects were “successful,” according to the Fund’s assessment.

“We were particularly struck by how these women are empowering themselves. We have seen women who have remarried and had new families. This success has been welcomed by the leaders,” said Mama Koité Doumbia, the African representative of the Board of Directors of the Fund, during her visit at the end of February 2017 to Ituri Province in the DRC.