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Judges to Pronounce Lubanga’s Financial Liability for Reparations

This Friday, International Criminal Court (ICC) judges will declare the financial liability that former Congolese rebel leader Thomas Lubanga will bear in reparation to victims of his crimes. In the only case at the court in which judges have made such a ruling, they determined that former militia leader Germain Katanga – also Congolese – bears a financial liability of US$ 1 million.

Lubanga, the first person tried by the ICC, was convicted in March 2012 of the war crimes of conscripting and enlisting children under the age of 15 years and using them in armed conflict in Congo’s Ituri district during 2002 and 2003, and he was handed a 14-year prison term. In December 2014, the ICC Appeals Chamber, by a majority, upheld his conviction and sentence.

On August 7, 2012, trial judges issued a decision on the principles and the process to be followed for reparations to victims. However, over the years the reparations process was delayed by appeals lodged by the prosecution, Lubanga’s lawyers, and victims’ lawyers. Among other things, the appeals sought clarity on the form the reparations would take, and it was not until 2015 that appeals judges issued an amended order for reparations, tasking the Trust Fund for Victims (TFV) with drawing up and implementing the reparations program.

It was only in October 2016 that judges approved the plan on symbolic collective reparations drawn up by the TFV. Earlier this year, they approved the approach suggested by the Trust Fund for implementing the program, which centers on providing collective services to communities affected by Lubanga’s crimes.

The Fund is spending US$ 1.06 million on the three-year reparation program because the court found Lubanga indigent. Nonetheless, Lubanga will still be expected to make additional reparations once the court determines his monetary liability.

In the Katanga case, judges last March ordered reparations totaling US$ 1 million, including an individual symbolic compensation award of US$ 250 for each of the 297 victims and collective awards in the form of housing assistance, income-generating activities, education assistance, and psychological rehabilitation. Defense lawyers are appealing, arguing that judges erred in issuing an order for reparations of US$ 1 million against Katanga because it is not proportionate to the part he played in the crimes for which he was convicted.