TFV Board of Directors meets to discuss Lubanga reparations plan
On July 21-22 2015, the Board of Directors of the Trust Fund for Victims (TFV) at the ICC convened in an extraordinary meeting in The Hague to review and discuss progress made in the development of a draft implementation plan for reparations, in the case against Mr Thomas Lubanga, to the benefit of former child soldiers in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Acknowledging the preliminary results of the TFV Secretariat's consultations with local communities and potentially eligible victims, as well as of an international expert meeting, the TFV Board endorsed the approach undertaken and reiterated the strong interest that it has in ensuring that the draft reparations implementation plan is responsive to the rights and expectations of eligible victims of Mr Lubanga's crimes - and as such, provides a solid foundation for collective reparations awards to be a meaningful redress of the harm that victims have suffered.
In December 2014, the ICC's Appeals Chamber confirmed Mr Lubanga's conviction and sentencing for the crimes of conscription and use of child soldiers under the age of 15, in eastern DRC during 2002-2003. In March, the Appeals Chamber issued a judgement and amended order for reparations against Mr Lubanga, which included the instruction to the TFV to submit a draft implementation plan for reparations to eligible direct and indirect victims by September 2015.
This is the first time that the TFV has been tasked by the ICC to develop a reparations plan, triggering its unprecedented mandate enshrined in the Rome Statute to implement reparations to victims of crimes within the jurisdiction of the ICC.
The TFV is taking up this challenging and unprecedented task in close cooperation with the ICC Registry, most notably its sections for victims participation and reparations (VPRS) and for public information (PIDS). From May through to the end of June, the TFV conducted consecutive field missions to the Ituri district in eastern DRC to engage with local communities and to have meetings with groups of potentially eligible victims, both male and female. During the same period, the VPRS conducted a preliminary victim mapping exercise.
A multi-disciplinary expert consultation meeting on reparations was held in Belfast at the Ulster University's Transitional Justice Institute (26-29 May) and convened over 25 practitioners and experts from a variety of backgrounds and geographies, as well as selected staff from the TFV Secretariat and ICC Registry and representatives of the legal counsel for victims in the Lubanga case. The expert meeting considered, amongst others, methods for victim identification for the purpose of collective reparations, applicable standards of proof and causality, as well as methods to assess harm for the purpose of collective reparations.
Recognising the great progress made and challenges overcome since March, the Board also took note of various steps, both from a legal and practical perpsective, that need to be taken before finalising the draft implementation plan. The Board reiterated the significance of preparing the plan in such a manner as to also guide the procedures and content of plans in future reparations cases, while reflecting sufficiently the special character of the case at hand.
Noting the report of the Court's Office of the Internal Auditor (OIA) on the TFV's internal control framework of the assistance mandate programmes, the Board was heartened by its overall audit opinion that "the TFV has managed well its assistance programs in successfully reaching victims and the affected communities in northern Uganda and DRC through assistance programs" and that, while areas of improvement can be identified, it is "worth noting that the TFV has made some significant achievements since its inception in 2008." The OIA and TFV intend to make available a redacted version of the audit report to the States Parties in the Fall of 2015.
At this meeting the TFV Board was not able, as intended, to deliberate and decide on the functioning and desired structure of the TFV Secretariat, since the delivery of the draft ReVision report came too late to be considered. The TFV Board and the Registrar did agree to develop soonest a written arrangement to clarify the administrative relationship between the Registry and the TFV, including the scope of administrative delegation of authority to the TFV Secretariat.
Recalling the need to strengthen the TFV's ability to complement payments for reparations in current and future cases before the ICC, as well as the need to sustain and expand the TFV's activities under its assistance mandate, the TFV Board expresses its appreciation to its donors for the significant voluntary contributions and donations they have made to the TFV. The Board is calling upon all interested States and private donors to assist in further growing the financial capacity of the TFV to assist victims of the most serious crimes to overcome the harm they have suffered and rebuild their lives.