Child soldiers awarded $10 mn damages from Congolese warlord


The Hague (AFP)

International judges on Friday awarded $10 million (8.5 million euros) in damages to child soldiers recruited into the ranks of a brutal Congolese militia by former warlord Thomas Lubanga.

The judges at the International Criminal Court set "the sum of reparations for which Mr Lubanga is liable as the total sum of $10 million," presiding judge Marc Perrin de Brichambaut said.

The court formally acknowledged 425 victims, setting the amount of harm they suffered at an average of $8,000 each, for a total of $3.4 million.

But the judges stressed that "hundreds or even thousands of additional victims" suffered at the hands of Lubanga's militia in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It therefore allocated another $6.6 million in compensation to help more victims once they have been identified.

Lubanga, 56, was found guilty in 2012 at the International Criminal Court (ICC) of abducting boys and girls and press-ganging them into his Union of Congolese Patriots (UPC) in the eastern Ituri region between 2002 and 2003.

He was jailed for 14 years, and has been transferred to a prison in the DR Congo to serve the rest of his sentence.

The reparations are a collective award, and will go towards paying for projects to help the victims rebuild their lives and re-integrate back into society.

The projects will be administered by the independent Trust Fund for Victims, and may include medical and psychological help, schooling and vocational training.