Sticky Issues in Lubanga Reparations

New issues are being discussed in the case of Lubanga and possible reparations to his victims. As pointed out in an April 10 All Africa it is unclear what actions the court can and will take. Lubanga, convicted of recruiting child soldiers, is indigent. The International Criminal Court’s Trust Fund for Victims is limited to 1.2 million euros for reparations. The ICC rules permit restitution, compensation, and rehabilitation, but the number of victims large.

The Fund has developed other strategies to meet the needs of the affected communities, “[o]perating under its General Assistance rather than Reparations mandate it has been on the ground in eastern DRC and northernUgandasince 2008 offering vocational training, trauma counselling, reconciliation workshops and reconstructive surgery to over 80,000 victims.”

One issue is the ongoing ethnic divide, and the fact that Lubanga was only convicted of one of his many purported crimes, recruiting Hema children to be soldiers. Mark Drumbl, an expert on child soldiers and the law, writes, “I think the ICC’s Registry is wise to worry about the ethnic dimension to the reparations, because under the child soldiering charges the Hema are the victims, though Hema forces inflicted crimes against humanity against the Lendu and others. This meshes with a broader sense that convicting Lubanga solely on child soldiering is akin to convicting Al Capone on tax evasion, that is, a huge array of victimization, particularly sexual torture, remains unjudicialized.

Drumbl supports collective reparations and efforts to reintegrate the former child soldiers into their communities, particularly in light of past conflicts where tensions arose when victims of the child soldiers did not themselves receive reparations.

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