Uganda Militia Leader’s Victims to Receive $56 Million Compensation, ICC Announces

Uganda Militia Leader's Victims to Receive $56 Million
Monday Jan. 26, 2015 file photo, Dominic Ongwen, a Ugandan commander in warlord Joseph Kony's feared Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) militia, waits for the start of court - Copyright © africanews AP Photo

Uganda Militia Leader’s Victims to Receive $56 Million Compensation, ICC Announces

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has granted reparations exceeding $56 million to over 50,000 victims of Dominic Ongwen, a convicted commander in the Ugandan rebel group, the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). The ICC appeals panel also upheld Ongwen’s convictions and 25-year sentence for offenses including murders, rapes, forced marriages, and recruiting child soldiers between 2002-2005.

Ongwen was not present during the reparations hearing and was convicted in late 2022. The victims covered by the recent order include former child soldiers and children born as a result of rapes and forced pregnancies.

Presiding Judge Bertram Schmitt emphasized the immense harm suffered by tens of thousands of individuals due to the unimaginable atrocities committed by rebel fighters led by Ongwen during attacks on displaced people’s camps in northern Uganda.

As Ongwen is considered indigent, the reparations will be paid by a trust fund for victims established by the ICC’s member states. The judge urged states, organizations, corporations, and private individuals to support the trust funds for victims, emphasizing the importance of contributing to fundraising activities.

Each victim is slated to receive $812 as a symbolic award, with additional reparations in the form of community-based rehabilitation programs. Evidence presented during Ongwen’s trial revealed the transformation of female civilians into sex slaves and wives for LRA fighters.

The LRA, led by one of the court’s most-wanted fugitives, Joseph Kony, initiated attacks in Uganda in the 1980s to overthrow the government. Following their expulsion from Uganda, the militia terrorized villages in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic, and South Sudan.

Ongwen, initially abducted by the LRA, became a child soldier at the age of nine and later rose to become a senior commander. Despite his background, the judges presiding over his trial deemed him a fully responsible adult aware of his actions during the commission of crimes. The reparations granted by the ICC aim to address the profound harm suffered by victims and contribute to their rehabilitation and recovery.

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