ICC Appeals Chamber confirms Lubanga’s liability for US$ 10 million in reparations to war victims
REDRESS welcomes today’s decision of the International Criminal Court (ICC) Appeals Chamber on reparations to victims of Thomas Lubanga Dyilo (Lubanga), settling the question of Lubanga’s liability for US$10 million for reparations for victims in the case.
Lubanga, former leader of the Union des PatriotesCongolais/Forces Patriotiques pour la Libération du Congo (UPC/FPLC), was convicted in 2012 for the war crimes of enlisting, conscripting children under the age of 15 into an armed rebel group and using them to participate actively in hostilities.
In December 2017, the Trial Chamber set the amount of Lubanga’s liability for collective reparations at a total of US$ 10 million in respect of 425 identified victims and recognised “hundreds and possibly thousands more victims suffered harm as a consequence of the crimes of which Mr Lubanga was convicted” who had not been identified. Lubanga appealed the decision, challenging the correctness of the Trial Chamber’s methodology for deciding the monetary amount of reparations, and contesting the eligibility of unidentified victims to receive reparations.
“Today’s decision has put to rest the idea that all victims have to be identified and deemed eligible before a Chamber can determine the extent of the liability of the convicted person,” said Lorraine Smith van Lin, REDRESS’s Post-Conflict Justice Adviser. “This approach is an important acknowledgment that potentially eligible victims should not be excluded simply because they had not managed to put in an application before the reparations award is made.”
The decision also addressed the concern of victims in the case who argued that the process the Trial Chamber used for determining which victims should receive reparations was confusing, uncertain and discriminatory and led to the exclusion of some potentially eligible victims.The Appeals Chamber judges agreed with the victims’ lawyers and ruled that 48 victims whose applications had been rejected could resubmit their information and be reconsidered for reparations.
In reality, the decision doesn’t change much for Lubanga, who has been found indigent and cannot afford to pay the reparations awards. Thus far the Trust Fund for Victims has allocated $3,850,000 to reparations in the case and must now move quickly to implement the plan for the symbolic and collective reparations to victims approved by the Trial Chamber.
For more information, please contact Eva Sanchis, REDRESS’ Head of Communications, on 020 7793 1777 or 07857110076 (out of hours) and [email protected].
NOTES TO EDITORS:
- Cases at the reparations phase before the ICC: The Prosecutor v Thomas Lubanga Dyilo and the Prosecutor v Germain Katanga, both arising from the Situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo; and the Prosecutor v Ahmad al-Faqi Al Mahdi, arising from the Situation in the Republic of Mali. Preparatory reparations proceedings had also commenced in the case of the Prosecutor v Jean-Pierre Bemba, which arose from the ICC Prosecutor’s investigations in the Central African Republic, but these proceedings were discontinued following the Appeal’s Chamber’s acquittal of Mr Bemba in June 2018.
- Charges and sentencing of Mr Lubanga: Mr Lubanga was found guilty on 14 March 2012 of the war crimes of i) enlisting and conscripting children under the age of 15 years, and ii) using them to participate actively in hostilities. Lubanga was sentenced on 10 July 2012 to 14 years of imprisonment, a verdict and sentencing that was upheld on appeal on 1 December 2014. Lubanga was transferred to a prison facility in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) on 19 December 2015.
- Reparations process in the Lubanga case: On 7 August 2012, Trial Chamber I issued its first decision on the principles for reparations to victims in the case, an order that was amended by the Appeals Chamber on 3 March 2015 after appeals were filed by the prosecution, Lubanga and victims’ lawyers seeking clarification on the form of the reparations. In the 2015 decision by the appeals chamber, the Trust Fund for Victims (TFV) was instructed to present a draft implementation plan for collective reparations within six months. This plan was approved on 21 October 2016; shortly thereafter, on 15 December 2017, Trial Chamber II set Mr Lubanga’s liability for collective reparations at USD $10 million, which was confirmed on appeal on 18 July 2019. The TFV has proceeded with selecting implementing partners for providing collective service-based reparations throughout the appeals process. In setting the amount of Lubanga’s financial liability for reparations, the judges considered that the scope of a convicted person’s liability is proportionate to the harm caused, and their participation in the commission of the crimes for which they were found guilty, among other criteria. A total of 427 persons were recognized as Lubanga’s victims and he was found liable of a reparation award of US$ 3.4 million. After factoring the proportion to the harm caused and Lubanga’s participation in the commission of the crimes, judges found he was liable of an additional US$ 6.6 million. REDRESS has welcomed the finding by the judges that how much money a convicted person has should not determine what reparations should be owed to the victims as reparations are indelibly connected to and should reflect the harm suffered by victims.
- For more information about reparations procedures at the ICC, read REDRESS’ 2019 report No Time to Wait: Realising the Right to Reparations for Victims before the ICC, which evaluates the progress made by the ICC to deliver meaningful and timely reparations for victims of the worst international crimes.
About REDRESS: REDRESS uses the law to seek justice and reparation for survivors of torture, to combat impunity for governments and individuals who perpetrate torture, and to develop and promote compliance with international standards. REDRES supports the progressive development of the ICC as an institution that complements national trials to deliver justice for victims of international crimes, with a focus on victims’ rights, including participation, protection, legal representation, and reparations. We intervene directly before the ICC and engage with the Registry and the Trust Fund for Victims to progress their policies and implement reparations for victims. We also engage with domestic and hybrid war crimes trials under the principle of complementarity, and coordinate the Victims’ Rights Working Group, an informal global network of experts and advocates working to promote justice for victims of international crimes.