Reactions from the local population to collective reparations in the Katanga case

Radio Canal Révélation
The below article is from International Justice Monitor's partner at Radio Canal Révélation, a radio station based in Bunia, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The article was produced as part of the radio station’s Interactive Radio for Justice and Peace Project, which promotes discussion on critical issues around justice in DRC. The views conveyed in this article are those of the people interviewed and do not necessarily represent the views of all the members of the community or those of the victims.

Several dozen victims of crimes committed by Germain Katanga in the village of Bogoro, in Ituri Province in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), are waiting impatiently for the reparations ordered by the International Criminal Court (ICC).

“We want to erase the image of war. These reparations are expected and will help us,” affirmed the village chief of Nyakeru, in the Babiasi group that forms the Chieftaincy of Bahema Sud, in the Irumu territory. Nyakeru is located approximately 11 miles to the south of the town of Bunia, the district capital of Ituri Province.

In his opinion, collective reparations are better because they will benefit the entire community, given that many of the victims have died since the events.

Mrs. B.B. lost everything, including her children, during the attacks in 2003 on this group. She lives alone, exposed to the elements. “I am alone in the world… I am still waiting for this reparation. All I am hoping for is a house in which to shelter,” she told us when we were in Nyakeru in May.

“I agree with those who are in favor of collective reparation. I lost everything during the war. The houses, schools, hospitals, and water sources that will be built will enable the sustainable development of our region, following the different forms of destruction that we have known”, said Mrs. M.K.

On March 24, 2017, the ICC judges ordered reparations for 297 victims, which came to a total of US $1 million. They consisted of symbolic individual compensation in the amount of US $250 per victim and of collective reparations in the form of housing and education assistance, revenue-generating activities, and psychological rehabilitation.

According to some accounts that our radio station collected in Bogoro and Nyakeru, many victims were not listed.

“My name is not listed among the victims; however, I am a victim. [Despite this] I am delighted with the collective reparations in my village,” one mother indicated to the journalists.

According to the ICC outreach unit in Ituri, some victims did not follow procedures correctly for the allocation of reparations.

“Some people did not fill out the forms correctly. Also, from the outset, some people who were targeted, neglected the invitation from the victims’ department thinking that nothing could be done,” stated Nicolas Kuyaku, who is the Public Information and Outreach Assistant with the ICC office in Bunia.

Maître Nsita, the attorney for the victims of the crimes committed by Germain Katanga, has provided reassurance as to the lasting, visible, and striking nature of the collective reparations. They are aimed at ensuring the autonomy of all the victims.

“Close relatives of deceased persons will also be able to benefit from them,” he affirmed.

In May 2014, Katanga was sentenced to 12 years in prison after having been found guilty of a February 2003 attack on the civilian population in the village of Bogoro in eastern DRC during an ethnic conflict. However, due to his cooperation, the ICC judges reduced this sentence by three years and eight months. Katanga is currently in preventive detention in the DRC and is awaiting trial for other crimes allegedly committed in the DRC.

read more: civil society responds to landmark ICC reparations for victims


About the author

Radio Canal Révélation (RCR), a non-profit association, has been created in November 13, 2001, in order to allow young people to access to information and healthy leisure activities. Its headquarters are located in Bunia, the capital of the Ituri District in the Northeast of the Democratic Republic of Congo. In order to satisfy the information needs of young people and to form their critical judgment on the basis of objective information, RCR has quickly become involved in other roles imposed by the inter-ethnic war in this region of the DRC, causing 60,000 deaths since 1999. These roles include participation in the work of pacification, reconciliation and reconstruction of the environment.