International Justice

CJ354 Endicott College

Tag Archives: Lubanga

How Much Are Reparations Really Worth?

The above article describes some of the recent developments in the Lubanga trial, mainly raising the question of the value of reparations on the reconciliation process. It seems that the debate over the individual versus the collective has flared up again with regard to the nature of transitional justice. This situation is only exacerbated by the fact that the ICC is trying Lubanga thousands of miles away from where the child soliders perished fighting for his regime. While trials typically promote accountability, this one is different because the affected individuals are far removed from the process and there is little being done to engage them. Furthermore, the court’s insistence on collective reparations further dilutes the individualized reconciliation process. Collective reparations don’t address the individual pain felt by the affected persons. Furthermore, as noted in the article, collective reparations don’t seem to distinguish among the very different abuses perpetrated against individual; for example, they don’t address the pain of a child soldier versus the pain of a woman who was victim to sexual violence due to Lubanga.

The ICC’s inability to address individual concerns stems from its international nature; it has a unique place in the international system, a system marked by anarchy and the relations between states. While the ICC has the noble aim to propagate justice when the state is unable to fulfill its obligations to the right to truth and justice, it is at a disadvantage when it comes to reconciliation because it is so unfamiliar with the plight of the victims. Therefore, although it is sometimes necessary for the ICC to try those who have truly committed gross human rights violations, the reconciliation process should be referred to the local courts or to a truth commission; only they have a firsthand account of the individual’s needs in the context of society.

Justice Deferred? The Struggle of DRC Victims Post-Lubanga Trial to Receive Promised Reparations

Today published a commentary written by Olivia Bueno at the International Refugee Rights Initiative (IRRI) regarding a great deal of controversy surrounding the reparations relating to the trial of Thomas Lubanga, who received a 14-year sentence from the ICC for war crimes of enlisting, conscripting, and using child soldiers in the DRC.

It’s a fascinating piece, and certainly worth the read. I’ve also pulled out a few passages that I found particularly thought-provoking in terms of framing our discussion about restorative justice from Tuesday’s class. Particularly, I was struck by how I have been thinking about the effectiveness of the ICC based on those criminals it is able to apprehend and convict, but justice does not end with a verdict, especially not for the victims.

Click here to read the full article.

“In its decision, the trial chamber in the Lubanga case stated that victims should be awarded reparations and laid out principles for their application. However, the chamber did not make a decision regarding exactly what form these reparations should take. They decided that a proposal based on consultation with victims should be put together for approval by the Court. This left victims and the general public in Ituri with many questions, particularly about the form that reparations may take.”

“The Court has created enormous expectations on the part of many victims in Ituri and these expectations will be very difficult to meet.”

“They are talking about collective reparations. If you want to come and build a monument, that is fine, but don’t call it reparations.”

“These victims of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) are terrorized at home; constrained to remain silent by the notion that they should not undermine the honor of their community by denouncing violations committed against them by “their own.” Even if the Court has not been able to afford them the opportunity to express themselves openly, humanity should not ignore their suffering. That, she says, would be real injustice.”

“In fact, there is concern that a reparations program might even contribute to exacerbating tensions between some groups. “The Court says that reparations should not be discriminatory, but in practice the victims are more or less only Hema or Alur. What does this mean for victims who are Lendu or member of other groups?”

“They suggest a mode of reparations that address collective needs or which could be collectively used (such as a hospital serving a victim community) might be employed, rather than collective reparations that are merely symbolic (such as apologies or the construction of monuments or memorials).”

Lubanga’s convicted! So what now?

It is always easy to discuss the violent part of a crisis and even the legal proceedings which follow.  There exists a level of uncertainty that excites us that are so far removed from the actuality of the events.  Congo is one war torn country that has seen a major perpetrated brought to justice but despite the conviction of Thomas Lubanga there is no immediate revival of “normal” life within the Congo. 

The ICTJ released an article discussing the future for reparations for victim and reminding us that, “Article 75(I) of the Rome Statute requires the International Criminal Court (ICC) to “establish principles relating to reparations to, or in respect of, victims, including restitution, compensation and rehabilitation” for victims of war crimes and crimes against humanity”

The article is rather vague insofar as there is only so much precedent for the management of reparations and each country has a different set of cultural standards which make transitional justice so difficult.  That said I would like this post to open up thoughts on how the ICC should progress with regards to reparations in the Congo and how the Congolese government should reach out to the victim communities.  Naturally this topic can expand to the management of reparations as a whole.


Deterrence a Possibility?

This video highlights possible peace deals between the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo and military warlord “Cobra” Matata. This group is now requesting amnesty as well as the promise to keep their weapons and military ranks when or if they join the DRC military. In the wake of the ICC’s verdict finding Thomas Lubanga guilty of using child soldiers, many military leaders are now worried and looking to avoid possible punishment in the future.

The group is also threatening a return to violence if they are not granted amnesty.

We have often discussed whether or not the ICC is legitimate and if it does indeed have the ability to deter future possible war criminals from committing heinous acts. Here we can see that this deterrence is indeed possible as a fear has been stricken within the warlords of areas like the DRC and that could be argued as the first step to deterring future crimes from occuring. Without the fear of consequence, those who commit war crimes do so without hesitation but with the ICC handing down its guilty verdict against Lubanga this past Wednesday, the court has gained legitimacy in its ability to accuse, try, and prosecute individuals who commit crimes agains the international community. Could this Lubanga verdict be the first step in establishing a more powerful and effective International Court?

Lubanga Convicted!

In a unanimous decision, the ICC convicted Thomas Lumbanga for the conscription of child soldiers and using them for fighting and as sex slaves. This is certainly exciting as this is the ICC’s first conviction, illustrating, despite delays hold ups, they can still be effective in prosecuting and convicting those who have committed war crimes. Several criticisms, however, is that in the investigation stage there was a lot of use of unreliable evidence and that other co-perpatrators should also be brought before the court, including Bosco Ntganda, who has been incorporated into the Congolese army.

What is certainly positive, however, is that this conviction sets precedent for the war crime of enlisting child soldiers. Precedents set standards and act as a guide to how to prosecute those who have committed similar crimes. Precedents, however, also set standards that can be debated, as precedents of Supreme Courts are debated.

Here are some articles:

Charles Taylor Trial Verdict

Huge news!  Charles Taylor that was accused of war crimes including the use of child soldiers will have his verdict on April 26th!  The Washington Post article gives some basic information about basic background behind Taylor and who he was and what he did, the number of witnesses used from both the prosecution and the defense, and the significance of the release of this verdict on the international community.  Let us remember that Charles Taylor “is the first former African head of state to be prosecuted at an international tribunal” which is why this news is so big.  One of the witnesses used was supermodel Naomi Campbell, while Taylor himself testified on his behalf by denying all charges against him in a matter of 13 short weeks.

This article not only touches on all aspects of the Taylor trial, it also brings up that the ICC will deliver the verdict of Lubanga’s trial later on this month.  With that said, it seems that we have an exciting two months ahead of us and I am sure we will be following it closely in class.

I also wanted to bring up that I noticed that the title of this article is “UN-backed court says it will deliver verdicts next month in Charles Taylor war crimes trial.”  I found this interesting because when we watch or see anything related to the ICC in Al-Jazeera or France 24, it is referred to correctly as the ICC or the International Criminal Court.  The Washington Post, an American newspaper, called the ICC the “UN-backed court” as if ICC is not independent from the UN.  It also brings up the point that the ICC is not very talked about in the United States, no doubt due to the fact that the US is not a member state of the ICC.  This was just an observation but feel free to agree or disagree.  I just thought it was an interesting choice for a title to this article.