ICC judges reject record compensation for Congolese war crimes victims

ICC judges reject record compensation for Congolese war crimes victims

International Criminal Court (ICC) appeals judges in September rejected a decision to award a record $30 million in compensation for child soldiers and other victims of convicted Congolese militia leader Bosco Ntaganda, sending the case back to a lower court for a new ruling on the reparations amount.

The appeals judges said the order was missing a fundamental detail, “namely the number of victims whose harm it was intended to repair,” and added it was “not discernible” how the lower court had arrived at the sum of $30 million.

Ntaganda was sentenced to 30 years in prison in 2019 for murder, rape, and other atrocities committed when he was military chief of the Union of Congolese Patriots (UPC) militia in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo from 2002-2003.

In March last year, a lower court ruled that Ntaganda should pay reparations of $30 million to his victims, the highest such amount ever ordered at the ICC.

But both the legal representative of the victims and Ntaganda appealed.

Reading the judgment Monday, presiding Judge Marc Perrin de Brichambaut said the appeals chamber “found several errors” in the lower court’s decision.

The lower court “did not make any appropriate determination in relation to the number of potentially eligible or actual victims and failed to provide an appropriate calculation, or set out sufficient reasoning, for the amount of the monetary award against Mr. Ntaganda,” he said.

The appeals judges sent the case back to a lower court to deliver a new ruling on the number of reparations.

It is difficult to estimate the number of child soldiers in the volatile eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, according to child activists.

While some may be abducted by force, others reportedly join voluntarily.

Around 2,253 children were separated from armed groups in the country in 2018, 3,107 in 2019, 2,101 in 2020, and 957 in the first nine months of 2021, according to the child protection section of the UN.

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