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Hearing on Lubanga’s US$ 10 Million Reparations Liability Postponed to December

Judges at the International Criminal Court (ICC) have postponed the hearing to receive oral submissions in the appeal against the amount of reparations for which former Congolese rebel leader Thomas Lubanga is liable. Earlier scheduled for October 17, 2018, the hearing will now be held in December 2018 at a date yet to be set.

In the order postponing the hearing, judges did not state the reason for the postponement. Nonetheless, they have granted more time to the Trust Fund for Victims (TFV), which they had earlier invited to make observations on the appeals by Lubanga and by victims’ lawyers, to file its submissions.

In December 2017, judges set the amount of Lubanga’s financial liability for reparations to victims of his crimes at US$ 10 million. The former head of the Union of Congolese Patriots (UPC) militia, who was convicted for recruiting and using child soldiers, was the first person tried and convicted by the court.

The US$ 10 million is the highest amount for which ICC judges have held a convicted person liable. Germain Katanga’s liability was set at US$ 1 million. Malian national Ahmad al-Faqi al-Mahdi, who was convicted for attacking religious and historical monuments, was issued a reparations liability of €2.7 million (US$ 3.18 million).

Because Katanga, Lubanga, and al-Mahdi have been found to be indigent, the TFV has sought to find other sources of funding to contribute to the reparations. In the Lubanga case, it has rolled out a three-year US$1.06 million program of collective reparations to victims. In the Katanga case, it is providing funds for reparations that include an individual symbolic compensation award of US$250 per victim, and four collective awards in the form of housing assistance, education assistance, income-generating activities, and psychological rehabilitation.

Lubanga’s lawyers are appealing the reparations decision, arguing that judges erred in their assessment of “the scope and extent of any damage, loss and injury to victims.” They contend that, in their assessment, judges erroneously included several ineligible victims, including “hundreds, if not thousands” of unidentified individuals who had not applied to the court for reparations. Defense lawyers also argue that the US$ 10 million award does not reflect Lubanga’s criminal responsibility.

Victims’ lawyers have also appealed, arguing that judges excluded “a significant number” of victims who participated in the proceedings against Lubanga and whom the TFV had already designated as eligible for reparations.

Lubanga, who was convicted in 2012, is serving a 14-year prison term, which will expire in March 2020. His two appeals for early release were rejected by judges.