First decision on reparation: The International Criminal Court aknowledges the right to integral reparations for all the victims of Thomas Lubanga’s crimes

The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and its member organisations in the Democratic Republic of Congo – the Association africaine des droits de l’Homme (ASADHO), the Groupe Lotus and the Ligue des électeurs – welcome the first historic decision on reparation taken by the Trial Chamber I of the International Criminal Court (ICC) and made public on 7 August 2012. This decision defines for the first time the principles of reparation for victims of crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court in the case against Thomas Lubanga who, on 14 March 2012, was found guilty of war crimes, for enlisting, conscripting and using child soldiers.

This decision acknowledges all the victims of Thomas Lubanga’s crimes, and enshrines their right to reparation. This decision, the first to be rendered by an international criminal jurisdiction, consolidates the right to reparation, in a broad sense, for victims of human rights violations, and enroots the key principle of the Rome system that places victims at the heart of international justice proceedings stated Paulina Vega, FIDH Vice President and expert on reparation issues.

The Chamber concluded that, as provided in the ICC Statute, "reparations are to be applied in a broad and flexible manner, allowing the Chamber to approve the widest possible remedies for the violations of the rights of the victims and the means of implementation".

The Chamber stressed the importance for victims, and their families and communities, to be at the heart of the reparation process and be able to express their “particular points of view and communicate their priorities”. The Chamber considered that reparation should not only be granted to the direct victims of Thomas Lubanga crimes but also to the indirect victims, such as the family members, individuals who intervened to help the victims and persons who suffered personal damage as a result of these crimes.

This decision is also important because it establishes a right to reparation for victims who have not been able to participate in proceedings up to now because of the limitation of the charges presented by the Office of the Prosecutor. Hence the victims of crimes of sexual violence, who had been excluded from the proceedings, can obtain reparation; reparation measures should even pay a special attention to them said Dismas Kitenge, FIDH Vice President and President of the Groupe Lotus.

The Chamber has decided that reparation measures can be individual and collective, and that individual measures must be awarded in a way that avoids creating tensions within a specific community and that collective measures should make it possible to reach to currently unidentified victims.

The Chamber has detailed possible measures for restitution, compensation, rehabilitation and other forms of reparation, stating that “Mr Lubanga’s conviction and his sentence [constitute] symbolic reparations ... Other forms of reparations may include campaigns to improve the position of victims; issuing certificates that acknowledge the harm they suffered; outreach and promotional activities, along with educational programmes, which provide information and are directed at reducing the stigmatisation and marginalisation of the victims, avoiding discrimination of any kind.”

The Chamber furthermore insisted that reparation measures be implemented without discrimination of any kind, seek reconciliation between the children who were forced to enlist and their families and communities and take into account the age of the victims and the sexual violence they may have suffered.

The Chamber ordered the Trust Fund for Victims (an institution created in accordance with Article 79 of the Rome Statute) to collect the victims’ reparation proposals and present them to a newly-constituted Trial Chamber. The Trust Fund immediately indicated it could launch this first reparation process thanks to the 1.2 million euros that had been received as voluntary contributions, especially from States Parties.

Finally, the Chamber requested States Parties and non-states parties, and especially the DRC government, to fully cooperate with the Trust Fund in effectively implementing the reparation measures. It is now states parties’ duty to support this reparation process, so that it be as comprehensive and successful as possible, by assisting the work of the Trust Fund, including financially through additionnal voluntary contributions said Patrick Baudouin, FIDH Honorary President and Coordinator of the Litigation Action Group.


The ICC is the first international criminal jurisdiction with a mandate that includes integral reparation for victims, in accordance with Article 75 of the ICC Statute.

The Trust Fund for Victims was created pursuant to Article 79 of the ICC Statute and established by the Assembly of States Parties in 2002. It is an independent institution with two mandates: implementing Court-ordered reparation awards and providing assistance to victims, in particular through their physical and psychological rehabilitation. Under its second mandate, the Trust Fund has already supported close to 80 000 victims, especially in Uganda and DRC. In application of this decision, the Trust Fund will be fulfiling its mandate regarding reparations for the first time.

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