International Criminal Court Orders Compensation for Victims of Ugandan War Crimes

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The International Criminal Court (ICC) has issued a historic ruling, ordering that approximately 50,000 victims of Ugandan militia commander Dominic Ongwen be compensated for the atrocities they suffered.

The ruling, which totals over 52 million euros ($56 million), marks a significant step in addressing the harms inflicted by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) during its reign of terror in Uganda.

Dominic Ongwen, a former child soldier turned LRA commander, was convicted in 2021 on 60 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity. His crimes, which included rape, murder, and the kidnapping of children, left a lasting impact on the victims and their communities.

Due to Ongwen’s inability to pay the compensation himself, the ICC has mandated that its Trust Fund for Victims cover the cost. The reparations will include a symbolic individual payment of 750 euros per victim, as well as collective reparations such as memorial sites and rehabilitation programs.

The LRA, led by warlord Joseph Kony, terrorized Ugandans for nearly two decades, operating from strongholds in neighboring countries and northern Uganda. While the group has been largely dismantled, Kony remains one of the most wanted fugitives by the ICC.

Despite the significance of the ruling, some victims have expressed the belief that no amount of money can truly compensate for the crimes committed by the LRA. One victim, who was abducted as a child after witnessing the murder of their parents, described the reparations as symbolic, acknowledging the impossibility of fully redressing the harm inflicted by the militia.

The ICC’s decision to award compensation to the victims of Dominic Ongwen represents a step towards justice and accountability for the atrocities committed by the LRA. It serves as a reminder of the lasting impact of war crimes and the ongoing efforts to address the legacies of conflict in Uganda.

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