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ICC fund grapples with how to pay victims in Lubanga case

Journalists for Justice / 17 May 2016

 

 

 

This month, The Trust Fund For Victims is expected to present its reparation plan in the Thomas Lubanga case as directed by the International Criminal Court Appeals Chamber.

Since the reparations were ordered last year, lack of a clear legal formula has delayed the process.  On March 3, 2015, the Appeals Chamber issued the first-ever judgment on reparations in the case against the former Congolese warlord in August 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 15 years to participate actively in hostilities.

Lubanga was sentenced to14 years for the crimes that took place in 2002 and 2003 in Ituri in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo.

In the Lubanga case, the Trial Chamber did not lay the reparation obligation squarely at the foot of the convict. Rather, the Trial Chamber imposed upon the Trust Fund for Victims. In the Lubanga case, 85 victims have applied for reparations, but many more may be eligible.

Since this is the first Court ordered reparation, ICC is still struggling to come up with the best formula. On one hand, the trial chamber says there should be a full cost assessment of the harm suffered, TVF argues it is not cost-efficient or fair to victims to do so when the amount to cover the costs is so limited. Last year, the fund indicated that it had Ksh115 million (about one million Euros) for the reparation programme in DRC.

The Court ordered collective reparations but based ‘on what the victims want’. TVF has suggested that the programme, which it has yet to cost, should include collective professional training, training on conflict resolution, and psychological support and treatment, an approach which the chamber has questioned. Before it can approve the plan, the chamber wants detailed terms of reference for each of the proposed programs with a clear estimate of the corresponding costs and more details as to how monitoring would be undertaken. The TVF is supposed to make a list of victims potentially eligible for reparation, an assessment of the extent of the harm suffered by victims, proposals regarding the modalities and forms of reparation to be awarded, the anticipated amount corresponding to Lubanga’s liability for the harm suffered by victims; and the amount that the Fund would potentially advance from its own funds collected through voluntary contributions.  

The fund submitted its plan in November 2015. However, the Trial Chamber 11 dismissed the plan arguing that it did not respond to each of the five enumerated questions. The plan suggested a limited approach, on the basis of its consultations within communities and the identification of priorities. However, the Appeals Chamber, which amended the original reparation order by Trial Chamber II says the plan should locate, identify, and interview potential beneficiaries and to transmit their files by the end of the year.

 

 

When TVF files the necessary documents and provides the required information, the trial chamber retains a right to make any amendments necessary to the reparation programs if approved. Thus, victims may be forced to wait a bit longer to get reparations.

Currently, the TFV is providing a broad range of support under its general assistance mandate in northern Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo – including access to reproductive health services, vocational training, trauma-based counselling, reconciliation workshops, reconstructive surgery and more – to an estimated 80,000 victims of crimes under the ICC's jurisdiction.

  See more at: www.jfjustice.net/en/commentary/why-icc-judge-believes-kenya-victims-deserve-reparations#sthash.YPXIu4z0.dpuf

Since then, reparations for victims of international crimes or gross human rights violations have received increasing attention in ICC situation countries like Kenya and globally. Such reparations can include restitution, indemnification, and rehabilitation.

Currently, the TFV is providing a broad range of support under its general assistance mandate in northern Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo – including access to reproductive health services, vocational training, trauma-based counselling, reconciliation workshops, reconstructive surgery and more – to an estimated 80,000 victims of crimes under the ICC's jurisdiction.

 

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