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ICC Registry to Map Beneficiaries of Ntaganda Reparations

The Registry of the International Criminal Court (ICC) is due to map the potential new beneficiaries of reparations in the case of Bosco Ntaganda, the former Congolese general convicted last July for war crimes and crimes against humanity. According to judges, this assessment will facilitate the fair and expeditious conduct of the reparations proceedings.

Although 2,132 victims were authorized to participate in the Ntaganda trial, at the reparation stage of the proceedings the court needs to identify victims who may benefit from the reparations. Victims may include those already authorized to participate as well as others who did not participate in the trial phase.

Besides mapping potential new beneficiaries, the Registry will assess how many of the victims that are already participating in the case may be eligible for reparations given the scope of the judgement. Although Ntaganda was convicted on all charges he was tried for, he was not convicted over certain incidents that took part in 18 municipalities that were cited in the confirmation of charges decision, meaning victims from these locations would be ineligible for reparations.

Between February and October 2020, the defense, prosecution, victims’ lawyers, and other authorized parties shall make submissions on the reparations, and thereafter, judges will issue the reparations order.

In a December 5, 2019 order, Judge Chang-ho Chung, Single Judge of Trial Chamber VI, also said the Registry, in consultation with legal representatives of victims and the Trust Fund for Victims (TFV), must assess how many of the victims eligible for reparations as direct victim beneficiaries in the Thomas Lubanga case are also potentially eligible for reparations in the Ntaganda case.

Lubanga and Ntaganda were convicted over crimes committed in the same conflict and time period. In 2012, the ICC convicted Lubanga for the war crimes of enlisting, conscripting, and using children in armed conflict, which are also crimes Ntaganda was convicted for. Lubanga committed the crimes while he served as commander-in-chief of the Patriotic Forces for the Liberation of Congo (FPLC), the group in which Ntaganda was deputy chief of staff.

In the Lubanga case, judges ordered symbolic reparations, under which the TFV will build three commemoration centers in areas of Ituri province, eastern Congo, where the crimes were committed. In addition, the TFV allocated funds to service-based components of the collective reparations program, namely psychological rehabilitation, physical rehabilitation, and socio-economic measures. The TFV is spending US$ 1.06 million on these reparations because the court found Lubanga to be indigent.

Additionally, the court set Lubanga’s liability for reparations at US$ 10 million, comprised of his liability in respect of 425 recognized victims (US$ 3.4 million) and US$ 6.6 million to cater for additional victims that were yet to be identified.

In the Ntaganda case, last September, the Registry provided observations to the trial chamber, which guided its latest order for assessing potential beneficiaries. In those observations, the Registry stated that while the scope of the Ntaganda case appears to have remained relatively unchanged for the former child soldiers following the judgement, the status of victims of attacks may have been significantly impacted because the judgement removed specific crimes and village locations that the confirmation decision had included. As a result, the number of certified reparation beneficiaries from the list of participating victims is likely to reduce.

According to the Registry’s Victims Participation and Reparations Section (VPRS), the form that victims used to apply for participating at pre-trial and trial only asked victims whether they “intend to apply for reparations,”so it does not constitute a formal request for reparations as per the court’s rules. The VPRS stated that 38 victims participating in the case submitted a previous version of the application form that included a section devoted to requesting reparations.

In turn, the Registry recommended that, in accordance with previous rulings by the Appeals Chamber, participating victims should be assessed using the same criteria applied to any newly identified victim.