The International Criminal Court today announced it will hold its first ever public hearings into awarding reparations to the victims of war crimes, focusing on child soldiers recruited by a Congolese warlord.
Former warlord Thomas Lubanga was the first person to be convicted by the tribunal, found guilty of abducting children as young as 11 and forcing them to fight in a bloody war in a gold-rich region of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) between 2002-2003.
He was sentenced to 14 years in jail in July 2012, a prison term which was later upheld on appeal, and was transferred late last year to a Congolese jail to serve out his term.
Now the ICC, based in The Hague, will hold two days of hearings “to approve collective reparations projects in this case”.
The Trust Fund for Victims, set up in 2008 to support programmes to help those who have been the victim of war crimes, has allocated one million euros for projects to help Lubanga’s victims.
The court will hear on Tuesday and Thursday from groups with experience working with child soldiers, including the non-governmental organisations Women’s Initiatives and International Child Soldiers.
The fund has already drawn up a draft plan, but it still awaits the court’s approval.
Pieter de Baan, executive director of the fund, told AFP the aim of the hearings was to get “wider insights” from those groups who have already worked with child soldiers in order to complete the plan.
A final decision on how to disburse the reparations “will be made at a later date by the chamber,” an ICC spokesperson told AFP.
The court stressed that the reparations will not go to individuals but to collective projects.