International Court Orders Reparations for Congo Attack

MIKE CORDER, AP

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — The International Criminal Court on Friday awarded symbolic reparations of $250 (230 euros) each to nearly 300 people who lost relatives, property or livestock or suffered psychological harm in a deadly attack on a Congolese village in 2003.

Judges also awarded collective reparations in the form of projects covering “housing, support for income-generating activities, education and psychological support” for victims.

The award followed the conviction in 2014 of Germain Katanga for crimes committed in the attack on Bogoro in the Ituri region of Congo in which some 200 people were shot or hacked to death.

Such reparation orders are a key part of the court’s mandate to not only bring to justice perpetrators of atrocities but also to ensure that their victims are compensated.

Furaha Kiza, who lives in Bogoro, said the compensation allotted to victims amounted to very little.

“I lost my parents and our home because of Germain Katanga’s militias,” he said. “I live with a foster family now. I would like the ICC to review the amounts so that we feel more relieved.”

The court estimated the “extent of the physical, material and psychological harm suffered by the victims” amounted to more than $3.7 million and said Katanga was responsible for $1 million. But it added that he is considered “indigent” and unlikely to be able to pay.

Presiding Judge Marc Perrin de Brichambaut of France said the Trust Fund for Victims, an organization that supports those affected by crimes and implements ICC reparation rulings, must draw up by the end of June a plan for projects that can be set up under the individual and collective reparation orders.

Katanga, who has finished serving his ICC sentence but remains jailed in Congo’s capital, Kinshasa, due to national cases against him there, was able to watch the proceedings via video link from his cell, his British lawyer David Hooper told the court.

The court also set up a viewing site in the town of Bunia in Ituri for people in the region to watch the court hearing.

Local Congolese rights group the Center for Studies of Peace and Defense of Human Rights welcomed the ruling, saying that while the $1 million does not represent reparations for all the crimes committed in Bogoro, it is a very significant symbol that will comfort victims and help ensure the social reintegration of survivors.

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Associated Press writer Al-Hadji Kudra Maliro in Beni, Congo, contributed to this report.
Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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