International Justice Monitor

A project of the Open Society Justice Initiative

ICC Prosecutor, Victims Continue to Oppose Lubanga’s Early Release

The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) has opposed a possible early release for Thomas Lubanga, the first person convicted by the court, who is currently serving a 14-year prison sentence. Similarly, the victims of Lubanga’s crimes have asked judges not to shorten his jail term.

In a submission to the ICC appeals chamber considering a possible reduction of the sentence, prosecutor Fatou Bensouda stated that Lubanga does not deserve early release. “The gravity of the crimes for which he was convicted—the enlistment, recruitment, and use of children under the age of 15 to participate in hostilities, which exploited the vulnerability of the victims—require that he serves the full term of his 14-year sentence. He should remain in detention,” stated … Continue Reading

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ICC Lifts Restrictions on Lubanga’s Communications and Visits

International Criminal Court (ICC) judges have withdrawn the restrictions they had imposed on war crimes convict Thomas Lubanga’s communications and visits. The judges found that Lubanga currently presents little risk of interfering with witnesses in the trial of fellow Congolese national Bosco Ntaganda.

Lubanga, who is serving what remains of his 14-year sentence from a jail in his home country of the Democratic Republic of Congo, had restrictions placed upon him in June 2015 after he was implicated in interfering with witnesses in Ntaganda’s trial. Lubanga and Ntaganda served in the armed group known as the Union of Congolese Patriots (UPC) as a commander-in-chief and a deputy chief, respectively.

Besides imposing restrictions on Lubanga’s contacts, judges also ordered active monitoring of his … Continue Reading

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Judges to Conduct Another Review on Reducing Lubanga’s ICC Sentence

Judges at the International Criminal Court (ICC) have initiated a second review on the possible reduction of the prison sentence of Thomas Lubanga, the first person to be tried and convicted by the court.

The upcoming review follows an initial review conducted in 2015, when judges declined to reduce the sentence, which could have resulted in an early release for the former Congolese rebel leader. At the time, the judges determined that there were no factors in favor of Lubanga’s release, having found no evidence that he had genuinely dissociated from his crimes. Furthermore, the judges ruled that there was no indication of any significant action taken by Lubanga for the benefit of victims of his crimes.

Lubanga was convicted in Mach … Continue Reading

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How the Trust Fund for Victims Will Spend €1 Million on Collective Reparations in Congo

The Trust Fund for Victims (TFV or Fund) has described how it will use the €1 million (US$1.06 million) it has earmarked for collective reparations to victims of Thomas Lubanga’s crimes in Ituri district in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The Fund, however, acknowledges that the available finances are insufficient to meet the reparations needs in the three-year program.

Lubanga, former leader of the Union of Congolese Patriots (UPC) militia group, was convicted in 2012 over the recruitment, conscription, and use of children under 15 years in armed conflict. In addition to the 14-year jail sentence, Lubanga has to make reparations to victims of his crimes. However, the TVF is financing the reparations because the court found Lubanga indigent. Nonetheless, he … Continue Reading

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Reparations Plan for Lubanga Victims Takes Shape

The plan for making reparations to victims of Thomas Lubanga’s use of hundreds of child soldiers in armed conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo a decade and a half ago is nearing completion. The Trust Fund for Victims (TFV) will spend €1 million (US $1.1 million) over three years to support affected communities and individuals in eastern Congo.

However, the plan, which has taken four years to draw up, is not without challenges. The funds allocated for reparations are limited, and victims will not receive individual reparations, which many had expected. Moreover, continuing insecurity and the influence of Lubanga’s party in Ituri district could deter victims from participating in the reparations program.

These challenges were the focus of discussions when the … Continue Reading

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Les juges refusent de réduire la peine de M. Lubanga prononcée par la CPI

Les juges de la chambre d’appel de la Cour pénale internationale (CPI) ont rejeté une demande de réduction de la peine de Thomas Lubanga, le chef de milice congolais condamné, en 2013, à une peine de prison de 14 ans. Le mois dernier, la Cour a tenu une audience pour réexaminer sa peine, y compris la possibilité d’une libération anticipée.

Aujourd’hui, les juges Silvia Fernández de Gurmendi (juge présidente), Howard Morrison et Piotr Hofmański ont unanimement décidé qu’il n’y avait pas lieu de réduire la peine de M. Lubanga pour le moment. Le prochain réexamen de la question de la réduction de peine aura lieu dans deux ans.

Bien que les juges aient conclu qu’il existait des perspectives de resocialisation et de réinsertion réussie … Continue Reading

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Judges Decline to Reduce Lubanga’s ICC Term

Appeals judges at the International Criminal Court (ICC) have declined a request to reduce the sentence of Thomas Lubanga, the Congolese militia leader sentenced to a 14-year prison term in 2013. Last month, the court conducted a hearing to review his sentence, including a possible early release.

Judges Silvia Fernández de Gurmendi (presiding), Howard Morrison, and Piotr Hofmański today unanimously decided that it is not appropriate to reduce Lubanga’s sentence at the moment. The next review of Lubanga’s sentence will be in two years.

Although the judges found that there was a prospect for Lubanga’s resocialization and successful resettlement in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), they nevertheless concluded that a reduction of his sentence could not be justified in the absence … Continue Reading


Lubanga Sentence Review Postponed to August

The hearing to determine whether Thomas Lubanga’s 14-year prison sentence can be reduced will not be conducted tomorrow as had earlier been scheduled. It will instead be held on Friday, August 21, at 9:30 AM local time in The Hague.

According to a July 8 rescheduling order, the postponement is to allow the presidency of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to consider an application by defense lawyers for the disqualification of Judge Silvia Fernández de Gurmendi from the Appeals Chamber handling the review. A plenary session of judges was scheduled to convene today to consider the defense application,

As of tomorrow, Mr. Lubanga will have served two-thirds of the prison sentence handed him in March 2012.  At the time of sentencing, he … Continue Reading

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Lawyers Want Presiding Judge Off Lubanga Sentence Review

Thomas Lubanga’s lawyers have sought the disqualification of Judge Silvia Fernández de Gurmendi from presiding over the upcoming review of the prison sentence imposed on Mr. Lubanga by the International Criminal Court (ICC) due to “circumstances which manifestly cast doubt on her impartiality.” However, the prosecution requests that the defense application be dismissed because “a reasonable and well-informed observer” would not apprehend bias by the judge.

In a June 29, 2015 application to the court’s Presidency, defense lawyer Catherine Mabille stated that Judge Fernández was the Chef de Cabinet to former ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo during the period between the application for a warrant of arrest against Mr. Lubanga and the confirmation of charges hearing. At the time, the judge was … Continue Reading

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ICC Appeals Chamber Issues Its First Judgment on Reparations

On March 3, 2015, the Appeals Chamber at the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued its first-ever judgment on reparations. Trial Chamber I had issued its decision establishing the principles and procedures to be applied to reparations in the case against Thomas Lubanga in August 2012. Both the defense and the victims had appealed the trial chamber decision.

In March 2012, Lubanga became to first person to be convicted by the ICC for the enlistment, conscription, and use of child soldiers under the age of fifteen years to participate actively in hostilities. The crimes occurred in 2002 and 2003 in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. Lubanga was sentenced to a total of 14 years of imprisonment, and both his conviction and … Continue Reading

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