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ICC orders first monetary awards to war crime victims


Court in The Hague makes first compensation award to victims of war crimes, relating to an attack in the DRC. Judges at the International Criminal Court (ICC) on Friday awarded individual and collective reparations to victims of war crimes committed by former Congolese militia leader Germain Katanga.

The court awarded 297 victims of a 2003 attack on a Congolese village with “symbolic” compensation of $250 per victim, as well as collective reparations to help the community in the form of housing, income generating activities, education, and psychological support.

As the first ruling to award compensation to victims of war crimes, the order was a landmark step for the tribunal – set up in 2002 to prosecute the world’s worst crimes.

Katanga was accused of supplying weapons to his militia in the February 2003 ethnic attack on Bogoro village in Ituri province, in which some 200 people were shot or hacked to death with machetes. The court estimated that the “extent of the physical, material and psychological harm suffered by the victims” amounted to more than $3.7m and said Katanga was responsible for $1m. But it added that he is considered “indigent” and unlikely to be able to pay.

The ICC said it was asking the Trust Fund for Victims (TFV) to consider using its resources for the reparations. The TFV is an independent body set up under the ICC’s founding guidelines, to support and implement programmes to help victims.

The TFV could decide to dip into its funds, gathered from voluntary contributions from member states.

But it only has $5m available, of which $1m has been set aside for the case of Thomas Lubanga – another Congolese former rebel leader sentenced in 2012 to 14 years imprisonment for conscripting child soldiers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). And under TFV guidelines it can only help pay collective reparations, not any individual claims.