Tag Archives: Union of Congolese Patriots

Union of Congolese Patriots, the army directed by Thomas Lubanga Dyilo in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Court Establishes Reparations Process

Trial Chamber I of the International Criminal Court (ICC) has issued a 94 page decision describing the process for victims to collect reparations. The order, issued following the decision to sentence Thomas Lubanga Dyilo to 14 years imprisonment after having been found guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity as leader of the Union of Congolese Patriots for conscripting and using child soldiers in his rebel army in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The court ordered that most of the processing of claims be delegated to the Trust Fund for Victims which welcomed its new role in a statement. The trust fund reports that it has €1.2 million in its fund for reparations, and that 85 victims have made application for reparations in the Lubanga case and more than 8,000 victims overall.  All applications are to be turned over to the trust fund, though the court will maintain oversight and approve the details.  The court described “five step process:”

First, the TFV, the Registry, the OPCV and the experts, should establish which
localities ought to be involved in the reparations process in the present case
(focusing particularly on the places referred to in the Judgment and especially
where the crimes committed).  Although the Chamber referred in the Article
74 Decision to several particular localities, the reparations programme is not
limited to those that were mentioned. Second, there should be a process of
consultation in the localities that are identified. Third, an assessment of harm
should be carried out during this consultation phase by the team of experts.
Fourth, public debates should be held in each locality in order to explain the
reparations principles and procedures, and to address the victims’
expectations. The final step is the collection of proposals for collective
reparations that are to be developed in each locality, which are then to be
presented to the Chamber for its approval.

The American Non-Governmental Organizations Coalition for the International Criminal Court, (AMICC) reviewed and discussed the decision here, noting:

The Chamber noted that since Thomas Lubanga was found to be indigent, reparations will be financed by the Trust Fund for Victims, which tends towards collective reparation

Suggestions by victims and victims groups about the form reparations should take seemed to fall into three categories: reparations to empower victims economically and to stimulate local economic development, reparations to help heal the physical and mental health of victims, and symbolically (sic) reparations like a memorial.

The Trust Fund for Victims welcomed its substantial role in the reparations process and hailed the decision as “a historic milestone for victims of international crimes.” The Fund was set up by the ICC’s governing body, the Assembly of State’s Parties (ASP) in 2002 and currently has a total income of $5.5 million. $2.7 million has been set aside for grants in the DRC and Uganda.

Although the Chamber’s decision is not binding on future cases, the principles and procedures set out may be used by future Trial Chambers where they are practicable. It is possible that in a future case, where a defendant has means, a Trial Chamber may order individual reparations, or a combination of individual and collective reparations.

It appears from the decision that the direction of the court is to order collective rather than individual reparations. If the test is whether or not a convicted party has the means to make whole the victims of the kind of mass atrocities that would come before the court, then it is hard to imagine the defendant with the resources to make to make whole hundreds or thousands of victims after having spent some time in pre-trial detention, trial and appeal.

Lubanga was the first person to be tried, convicted and sentenced by the court, as previously described on this blog:

 Lubanga was brought to the court in May of 2006, his trial began in January 2009.  The defense began presenting its case in January 2010.  The case was stopped in 2009 to consider the addition of charges at the request of victims, and for other reasons throughout the trial, failure to disclose evidence by the prosecution, transcription and translation errors, and other issues.  The case was submitted to the court after closing arguments in August 2011.

At one point, the trial chamber ordered Lubanga released, finding that he could not have a fair trial because of the failure of the prosecution to disclose evidence and comply with court orders.  That decision was overturned by the appeals chamber and the trial resumed.

 

Court Video on the Reparations Decision (In French).

Lubanga Sentenced to 14 Years

Schevingen Prison in The Hague, Netherlands, where prisoners spend pre-trial detention.

 

Thomas Lubanga Dyilo, the first accused brought to the International Criminal Court, has been sentenced to 14 years imprisonment for the war crimes of recruiting, conscripting and enlisting child soldiers in his rebel army in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Union of Congolese Patriots.  The court announced the guilty verdict in March.

As previously blogged here:

Lubanga was the first accused brought into the custody of court. Lubanga was brought to the court in May of 2006, his trial began in January 2009.  The defense began presenting its case in January 2010.  The case was stopped in 2009 to consider the addition of charges at the request of victims, and for other reasons throughout the trial, failure to disclose evidence by the prosecution, transcription and translation errors, and other issues.  The case was submitted to the court after closing arguments in August 2011.

At one point, the trial chamber ordered Lubanga released, finding that he could not have a fair trial because of the failure of the prosecution to disclose evidence and comply with court orders.  That decision was overturned by the appeals chamber and the trial resumed.

As pointed out in the BBC report, Lubanga has been in the custody of the court for more than 6 years, and so would have something less than eight years to serve.   The prosecution and defense now have 30 days to appeal the verdict and the sentencing order.  It is not clear when the victim’s reparations process will begin, presumably after the resolution of any appeals.

Lubanga Found Guilty

By Jvhertum (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Schevenigen Prison in the Netherlands where ICC prisoners spend pretrial detention.


Trial Chamber I of the International Criminal Court (ICC) today announced a guilty verdict for Thomas Lubanga Dyillo in his war crimes trial in The Hague.  Lubanga was accused of recruiting and conscripting child soldiers as the leader of the Union of Congolese Patriots, (UPC) in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

According to the Lubanga Trial blog:

The ICC judges ruled that the prosecution proved beyond reasonable doubt that Lubanga is guilty of the crimes charged. Judge Adrian Fulford, Presiding Judge of the Trial Chamber, in delivering the verdict said that there was reasonable evidence to believe that Lubanga was involved in a recruitment drive for his UPC rebel group and that such drive included conscripting children and using them for combat purposes. The judges also found that Lubanga personally used children as his bodyguards.

Lubanga was the first accused brought into the custody of court. Lubanga was brought to the court in May of 2006, his trial began in January 2009.  The defense began presenting its case in January 2010.  The case was stopped in 2009 to consider the addition of charges at the request of victims, and for other reasons throughout the trial, failure to disclose evidence by the prosecution, transcription and translation errors, and other issues.  The case was submitted to the court after closing arguments in August 2011.

At one point, the trial chamber ordered Lubanga released, finding that he could not have a fair trial because of the failure of the prosecution to disclose evidence and comply with court orders.  That decision was overturned by the appeals chamber and the trial resumed.

The defense has a right to appeal the verdict to the appeals chamber.  Now that there is a verdict, the court may also begin the reparations phase and determine the appropriate amount and form of reparations to the victims recognized and allowed to participate in the case.

Lubanga Trial Closes Evidence Phase

Trial Chamber I of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, Netherlands, has declared a closed the evidentiary phase of the trial of Thomas Lubanga Dyilo. The court had previously announced the schedule for closing arguments, previously discussed here, which Judge Adrian Fulford announced will not be changed. “The clock has started ticking and nothing save an earthquake will stop it,” The Lubangatrial.org blog reports him as saying.

Thomas Lubanga Dyilo is the first person to face the International Criminal Court. He is accused of the war crimes of recruiting, using and conscripting child soldiers.  He was brought to the court in 2006, and his trial began in January of 2009.  The defense began presenting it’s case in January 2010.  The case stopped several times because of the prosecution cross examining witnesses with information that had not been disclosed to the defense.  At one point, the trial chamber issued a stay, finding that Lubanga could not get a fair trial, the appeals chamber reversed, but disclosure of evidence has continued to be an issue. The trial chamber again recently ruled on the disclosure problems and denied another defense request to end the trial because of the disclosure issues.

The questions raised by the ongoing disclosure issues were discussed in part, here.  Ultimately, the attitude and actions of the prosecutor in timely and properly disclosing evidence will determine whether or not an accused may get a fair trial at the court.  That, and the court’s reaction to the prosecution’s failure to comply with rules and court orders will determine the credibility of the court.  The court has been much in the news lately, which has added to American awareness of its existence.  It’s continued existence will require credibility in fair trials for the accused followed fair treatment of the victims in the reparations process when there is a conviction.