Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Symbolic Ceremony Marks End of ICC-Ordered Reparations for Victims

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The Case of The Prosecutor v. Germain Katanga in the Democratic Republic of Congo

On April 24, 2024, a significant ceremony took place in Bunia, Ituri, Democratic Republic of the Congo, marking the conclusion of the implementation of reparations in the case of The Prosecutor v. Germain Katanga. This event, convened by the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the Trust Fund for Victims (TFV), with support from the Congolese government and attended by dignitaries from various nations, symbolized a crucial milestone in the pursuit of justice.

The Katanga Reparation Programme aimed to assist individuals impacted by the tragic events of February 23, 2003, when the village of Bogoro in Ituri Province, DRC, was attacked. Mr. Katanga was held liable as an accessory by the ICC for this attack. The programme provided support to those who lost loved ones, endured physical and psychological harm, and suffered property and livestock losses.

Symbolic Ceremony in Bunia, Ituri, Democratic Republic of the Congo.

ICC President Tomoko Akane, in a video message, emphasized the historic nature of the completion of reparations, lauding it as a significant achievement for both the Rome Statute system and the survivors of the Bogoro attack. She commended the resilience and dignity of the survivors throughout the ICC process, expressing hope that justice had been served.

The ceremony, designed according to the wishes of the victims, featured various symbolic elements. It included traditional dances calling for reconciliation among Ituri Province’s communities, a theatrical performance by students highlighting the role of the Rome Statute in delivering justice, and a dialogue between the beneficiaries and Mr. Marc Perrin de Brichambaut, former ICC Judge who presided over the reparations order.

A survivor provided a testimony, and a symbolic act of acceptance of reparations occurred, where beneficiaries transferred clay cows to signify their acknowledgment and gratitude. Cows hold cultural significance in Ituri and were chosen as reparations due to their symbolism of prosperity and identity.

H.E. Mr. Ingo Herbert, German Ambassador to the DRC during the ceremony.

The reparations, totaling USD 1 million, were fully complemented by the TFV with contributions from Germany, The Netherlands, and additional donors. H.E. Mr. Ingo Herbert, German Ambassador to the DRC, expressed admiration for the victims’ courage and emphasized the importance of community involvement in reparations planning and implementation.

Maître Fidel Luvengika Nsita, Legal Representative of Victims.

Mr. Ibrahim Yillah, Vice-Chair of the TFV Board of Directors, underscored the collaborative effort among States Parties, the ICC, and the TFV in achieving justice as promised by the Rome Statute.

The ceremony received support from a delegation of Ambassadors of States Parties and was followed by a roundtable event in Kinshasa, further discussing reparations programmes in the DRC.

Symbolic ceremony marking the conclusion of the implementation of reparations in the case of The Prosecutor v. Germain Katanga.

The Katanga Reparation Programme, implemented between 2017 and 2023, provided symbolic compensation followed by collective reparations, including housing and educational support, and income-generating activities based on victims’ preferences. Psychological support was also extended to victims, ensuring comprehensive assistance.

Mr. Yillah, the Vice Chair of the Board of Directors of the TFV.

The successful completion of these reparations signifies a step forward in addressing the grievances of victims and reaffirms the commitment to justice and reconciliation in conflict-affected regions.

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