Redress; No Time to Wait: Reparations for Victims before the ICC

The reparations mandate of the ICC is a crucial component of its overall framework for giving victims a voice and allowing them to exercise their rights within the international criminal justice system. The promise of reparations set out in Article 75 of the Rome Statute, the ICC’s founding treaty, reflects the consensus in international law that reparation is essential to address the terrible consequences experienced by victims of international crimes and gross human rights violations.

While this report acknowledges that the ICC has made considerable progress in consolidating its case law on reparations, REDRESS’ findings point to a combination of factors that are negatively impacting the ICC’s ability to deliver reparations to victims in a timely manner.

The ICC reparations system includes an independent Trust Fund for Victims, established by the Assembly of States Parties – the ICC’s governing body – with a dual mandate to implement reparations awards and provide assistance to victims of situations before the ICC, even if not directly linked to a case. The creation of a TFV is viewed as an important mechanism for ensuring the effective implementation of reparations. In countries such as Uganda and the DRC where the assistance mandate has been in operation for several years, the Trust Fund has provided necessary physical rehabilitation and psycho-social support for victims.

On the other hand, despite the progress made so far, the actual realization of the right to reparations has become a complicated and protracted process that has delivered little by way of tangible results. In the Lubanga case, 15 years after the commission of the crimes in 2003, and 6 years after the handing down of the reparations decision in 2012, victims are yet to receive the reparations they have been waiting for.

Three cases are currently at the reparations phase before the Court: The Prosecutor v Thomas Lubanga Dyilo (Lubanga) and the Prosecutor v Germain Katanga (Katanga), both arising from the situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC); and the Prosecutor v Ahmad al-Faqi Al Mahdi (Al Mahdi), from the situation in the Republic of Mali. Preparatory reparations proceedings had also commenced in the case of the Prosecutor v Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo (Bemba), which arose from the Prosecutor’s investigations in the Central African Republic (CAR), but these proceedings were abruptly discontinued following the Appeals Chamber’s acquittal of Mr. Bemba in June 2018.