By failing to implement court-ordered reparations, Congolese authorities have weakened trust in the rule of law. Any trust the courts may have earned from victims through the legal proceedings has given way to disappointment and frustration. More broadly, the situation appears to have eroded the faith of the general public in the ability of the legal system to redress harms that result from serious crimes.
The research conducted for this report confirms existing perceptions that the government persistently evades its international and domestic obligations. Yet despite these failures, victims are aware of their right to compensation for the harms they have suffered and that the government has the responsibility to fulfill this right’ Congolese courts have ordered the government to pay compensation to victims in at least eight cases, on the basis of its obligations because those convicted are members of the Congolese military. No payments have been made in any of these cases to date—a clear indication of the judicial system’s weak ability to enforce the law.
Following field research in late 2009 and a 2010 workshop in Kinshasa, ICTJ produced Judicial Reparations for the Victims of Gross Violations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a report in French on the challenges of enforcing court-ordered reparations.
The report included the views of victims’ representatives and respected Congolese jurists who were members of both the military and civilian justice systems. The report contained recommendations on how court-ordered reparations could be implemented. Relying on the case study of the situation in Mbandaka, the capital of Équateur Province, where a gender reparations project had since been undertaken, ICTJ conducted further field research and analysis in July 2011.
This briefing paper is based on Report on Judicial Reparations for Victims of Grave Violations in the DRC, published in 2011 by ICTJ’s DRC Program and subsequent field research that year. View ICTJ’s briefing: The Failure to Fulfill Court-Ordered Reparations for Victims of Serious Crimes in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
UN General Assembly, Basic Principles and Guidelines on the Right to a Remedy and Reparation for Victims of Gross Violations of International Human Rights Law and Serious Violations of International Humanitarian Law: [Resolution adopted by the General Assembly, 21 March 2006, A/RES/60/147]