ICC orders reparations for DR Congo warlord victims
8/7/2012 6:10:08 PM -
THE HAGUE (AFP) - The International Criminal Court ordered Tuesday that victims of convicted Congolese warlord Thomas Lubanga get reparations, in the first decision of its kind since setting up a decade ago.
Lubanga, 51, was jailed last month for 14 years by the Hague-based tribunal for using child soldiers in his rebel army during a bloody conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo's Ituri province in 2002-03.
"This is the first time the court has ordered reparations for victims," ICC spokesman Fadi El Abdallah told AFP, adding the court ordered a victims' trust fund set up by the ICC's founding treaty in 2002 to handle the process.
The Trust Fund for Victims will now consult victims "who suffered harm following Lubanga's crimes of enlisting, conscripting and using children under 15 years" to fight, the ICC said in a press release.
"Proposals for reparations, as advanced by the victims themselves are to be collected by the TFV and presented to a newly-constituted trial chamber for approval," the ICC said, without giving a time frame.
"We expect about 1,000 victims to be elligible for reparations," TFV executive director Pieter de Baan told AFP.
Set up under the ICC's founding Rome Statute, the TFV had around 1.2 million euros ($1.4 million dollars) available for reparations, De Baan added, saying the money was not only to help victims of Lubanga's crimes, but also those involved in possible future convictions by the ICC.
Lubanga, a former militia commander was sentenced by a three-judge bench on July 10 for his part in a war in the gold-rich Ituri region, where rights groups say some 60,000 civilians were killed between 1999 and 2006.
His conviction was also the ICC's first since it started work in 2002.
Lubanga, who has been detained in The Hague since 2006, is the founder of the Union of Congolese Patriots (UPC), whose military wing is accused of killing hundreds of civilians.
The ICC, the world's only independent permanent tribunal to try genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, has issued four arrest warrants for crimes in the DR Congo since opening its doors in 2003.