Sunday, August 20, 2017

The International Criminal Court Issues a 2.7 Million Euro Reparation Order for Destruction of Religious and Historic Buildings in Timbuktu

For deliberately attacking religious and historic buildings in Timbuktu, Mali, the International Criminal Court (ICC) has this week issued to Malian Islamist a nearly three million euros Reparations Order, due on 16 February 2018.

“The Chamber highlighted the importance of cultural heritage and stressed that, because of their purpose and symbolism, most cultural property and cultural heritage are unique and of sentimental value,” said the Court, based in The Hague and the world's only permanent war crimes tribunal. “Their destruction thus carries a message of terror and helplessness; destroys part of humanity's shared memory and collective consciousness, and renders humanity unable to transmit its values and knowledge to future generations,” it added.

ICC Trial Chamber VIII issued the Reparations Order in the case of The Prosecutor v. Ahmad Al Faqi Al Mahdi, concluding that Mr. Al Mahdi is liable for 2.7 million euros (roughly $3.2 million) in expenses for individual and collective reparations to the Timbuktu community for intentionally directing attacks against religious and historic buildings in that city.

Noting that Mr Al Mahdi is indigent, the Chamber encouraged the Trust Funds for Victims (“TFV”) to complement the reparations award, directing it to submit a draft implementation plan for 16 February 2018.

Covering the three categories of damage to the attacked historic and religious buildings; consequential economic loss; and moral harm, the ICC stated: “Reparations may assist in promoting reconciliation between the victims of the crime, the affected communities and the convicted person.”

Reparations for site rehabilitation and wider Timbuktu community

“Reparations are to be collective for rehabilitation of the sites and for the community of Timbuktu as a whole to address the financial loss and economic harm as well as the emotional distress suffered as a result of the attack. It may also include symbolic measures – such as a memorial, commemoration or forgiveness ceremony – to give public recognition of the moral harm suffered by the Timbuktu community and those within it,” the ICC statement elaborated.

The Chamber also ordered individual reparations for those whose livelihoods exclusively depended upon the attacked buildings and those whose ancestors' burial sites were damaged in the attack.

As a symbolic measure, the Chamber ordered the Registry to post an excerpt of the video of Mr. Al Mahdi's apology, which it considers “genuine, categorical and empathetic” on the Court's website.

Given the specific nature of the case, it also ordered one symbolic euro to be received by the Malian State and the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). Upon subsequent approval by the Chamber, the TFV will identify projects and discrete implementation partners for the Chamber's final approval.

On 27 September 2016, Trial Chamber VIII – composed of Judge Raul C. Pangalangan (Presiding), Judge Antoine Kesia-Mbe Mindua and Judge Bertram Schmitt – unanimously found Mr. Al Mahdi to nine years in prison for committing a war crime by deliberately destroying in 2012 nine mausoleums and the secret gate of the Sidi Yahia mosque in the UNESCO World Heritage site of Timbuktu in Mali.

(adapted from a UN press release)


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