The Hague, August 7, 2012 (FH) – Judges of the International Criminal Court Tuesday ordered the Trust Fund for Victims to gather proposals from victims of the ICC's first convict, Thomas Lubanga, and present them to the Court to determine reparations. In a historic first, this sets the framework for attribution of reparations to victims by the ICC.

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Lubanga was found guilty of war crimes for recruiting children in his troops and using them to fight in Ituri, eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. The former militia leader was sentenced to 14 years in jail.

Regarding the principles, the judges said that reparations should “relieve the suffering caused by these offences”, “deter future violations” of international law and “contribute to the effective reintegration of former child soldiers”. They added that reparations can help promote reconciliation between the convicted person, the victims of the crimes and the affected communities.

The Chamber said the Trust Fund for Victims should set up a group of experts to go to Ituri, and identify the communities affected by Lubanga's crimes between September 1, 2002 and August 13, 2003. The experts should then consult the population, evaluate the harm caused and hold a public debate, before submitting to a first instance Chamber of the Court their proposals on reparations.

Those eligible are direct victims, including child soldiers, and also indirect victims such as close family members of direct victims or those who were targeted for trying to prevent crimes. During reparations hearings before the Court in the coming months, victims will have to prove the harm they suffered.

Reparations can be channeled through, for example, NGOs and charity organizations, schools, hospitals, micro-credit organizations or cooperatives.

The judges also said that reparations should be collective. While the Court has found Lubanga indigent, the judges said he could, if he agrees, contribute to the process by voluntarily offering an apology.

The Trust Fund for Victims is funded mainly by voluntary contributions from ICC members states. In their decision the judges urged members states, notably the DRC, to contribute.