The International Criminal Court issued its first ever decision on reparations for victims, in the case against Thomas Lubanga, who had earlier been convicted for enlisting and conscripting children under the age 15 years and using them to participate actively in hostilities.
Elisabeth Rehn, Chair of the Board of the Trust Fund for Victims (TFV), hails the decision as “a historic milestone for victims of international crimes”. She welcomes the important role and responsibilities given by the Court to the Fund to consult with victims and their communities for the design and implementation of appropriate collective reparations measures. Ms Rehn also says that, to repair harm after mass victimisation, adequate resources are required for the TFV.
The TFV is strongly committed to engage with the Court, independent experts, the Government of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), civil society, affected communities and victims themselves to make reparations a reality for the victims in the Lubanga case. Ms Rehn calls on all parties, including local authorities and community leadership, to lend their support in making reparations to victims in this case a meaningful undertaking.
The decision of Trial Chamber I sets out important principles for reparations before the ICC, confirming that victims should be at the centre of reparation proceedings, and that the needs of vulnerable victims, including women, children, and victims of sexual and gender-based violence, must be addressed as a priority. It also maintains that reparations should promote, whenever possible, reconciliation. The TFV strongly appreciates the stipulation by the Chamber that gender- and child-sensitive measures are required to ensure equal access to justice, and full participation in reparations programs.
As requested by the Chamber, the TFV will hold consultations with victims and their communities at localities in Ituri (DRC) affected by the crimes, including an assessment of harm to be undertaken by a group of multi-disciplinary experts. This inclusive process is expected to result in plans for collective reparations measures, which the TFV will subsequently submit to the Chamber for approval. Upon receiving approval by the Chamber, the Fund will begin to implement the reparations measures in cooperation with the victims and affected communities.
The TFV manages its resources, mostly originating from voluntary contributions by States, in such a way as to be able to complement Court-ordered reparations in the case that a convicted person is declared indigent. In light of the Chamber considering Mr Lubanga to be indigent for the purpose of reparations, the Board of Directors of the Trust Fund for Victims confirms its intent to finance the reparation awards in line with the decision, and in consideration of the availability of resources.
The Fund’s current reserve for reparations amounts to € 1.2 million, which is about one third of its total resources. The reparations reserve of the TFV is maintained with a view to complement reparations awards that may result from all cases pending before the Court. So far, the Court has received over 8,000 applications for reparations overall. In the Lubanga case, 85 victims have applied for reparations, while many more may be eligible.
A short video on the activities of the Trust Fund for Victims