Congolese warlord Lubanga liable for reparations: ICC

3rd March 2015, Comments 0 comments

The International Criminal Court ruled Tuesday that convicted Congolese warlord Thomas Lubanga should "personally" be liable for reparations to his victims, including paying to help reintegrate child soldiers who served in his rebel army.

Handing out a ruling at its Hague-based headquarters, the first of its kind, ICC appeals judges said the court's trial chamber "erred in not making Lubanga personally liable for collective reparations".

Trial judges in March 2012 convicted Lubanga of war crimes, specifically for using minors in the conflict that wracked the volatile eastern Democratic Republic of Congo and sentenced him to 14 years in jail.

Lubanga was found guilty of abducting children as young as 11 from their homes, schools or football fields and forcing them to fight and commit atrocities.

Victims' lawyers appealed the trial judges' verdict as it did not say whether Lubanga himself was liable, with trial judges adding he had no funds.

But the ICC's appeals judges said the world's only permanent war crimes court judged accused on their individual criminal liability in cases.

"This context strongly suggests that reparation orders are intrinsically linked to the individual whose criminal liability is established in a conviction and whose culpability for those criminal acts are determined in a sentence," the judges said.

They told officials of the Trust Fund for Victims (TFV) to draft a plan for collective reparations to Lubanga's victims within six months.

The TFV is funded by voluntary contributions from ICC member states, international organisations and other donors.

Judges said those who suffered sexual abuse in the northeast Ituri province should also be compensated, even though Lubanga was never accused or convicted of crimes involving sexual violence.

The money should collectively include the possibility of medical services and psychological support as well as "general rehabilitation, housing, education and training" for victims.

It also should include measures to "reintegrate former child soldiers."

The TFV will make the "resources" available to the victims, the judges said.

But they added: "it (the TFV) it will be able to claim the advanced resources from Mr Lubanga at a later date."

The verdict against Lubanga marked the first-ever conviction at the ICC, sentencing Lubanga, now 54, for his part in a war in the gold-rich northeastern Ituri region where rights groups say some 60,000 civilians were killed between 1999 and 2006.

© 2015 AFP

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