International Justice Monitor

A project of the Open Society Justice Initiative

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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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


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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Lubanga Pleads With ICC Judges for Early Release

Convicted Congolese political leader Thomas Lubanga has pleaded with International Criminal Court (ICC) judges to grant him early release, promising to promote reconciliation and announcing plans to do doctoral studies into the psycho-sociological determinants of conflicts in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

Mr. Lubanga made the appeal before a panel of judges that will determine whether his 14-year prison sentence can be reduced. He states that throughout the 12 years he has been in detention, first in the DRC and then at the ICC, his thoughts have been with the people of the Ituri district, with whom he said he endured a painful history, beginning with a massacre in 1999.

“I offer my sincere apologies for all victims for the … Continue Reading

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Judge Fernández to Stay on Lubanga ICC Sentence Review Panel

The Presidency of the International Criminal Court (ICC) has dismissed a defense application for the disqualification of Judge Silvia Fernández de Gurmendi from presiding over the upcoming review of Thomas Lubanga’s the prison sentence. The majority of a 15-judge plenary found that the functions Judge Fernández earlier performed in the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) were “irrelevant” to the proceedings to determine whether Mr. Lubanga’s 14-year jail sentence should be reduced.

In an August 3, 2015 decision, the judges determined that the functions performed by Judge Fernández when she was employed by the OTP appeared to have been strategic, high-level, and “relatively removed” from the details of the case against Mr. Lubanga. “There might be circumstances where Judge Fernández’s prior functions … Continue Reading

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Defense Pleads for Lubanga’s Early Release; Victims’ Lawyers Disagree

Thomas Lubanga’s lawyers recently sought his early release from International Criminal Court (ICC) detention, arguing that, if released, the former leader of the Union of Congolese Patriots (UPC) would contribute to peace and reconciliation in Congo’s restive Ituri district. However, lawyers representing victims responded that conditions to support his early release are lacking, partly because Mr. Lubanga has continued to deny the crimes for which he was convicted.

Catherine Mabille, the lead defense lawyer, said Mr. Lubanga wants to relocate with his family to Kisangani, 800 kms from Bunia, where the crimes he was convicted of were committed. Lubanga plans to enroll at his alma mater, Kisangani University, for post-graduate studies in psychology, his lawyers stated. In annexures to the defense … Continue Reading

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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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