ICC orders Uganda commander to pay $56 million in reparations to war crime victims News
Hypergio, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
ICC orders Uganda commander to pay $56 million in reparations to war crime victims

The International Criminal Court (ICC) ordered Dominic Ongwen, a former commander of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), to pay $56 million in reparations Wednesday to several thousand victims of crimes against humanity.

Ongwen was charged with committing crimes against humanity and war crimes in Northern Uganda between July 2002 and December 2005 as a commander for the LRA. The LRA is a Ugandan militant group established in the 1980s by Joseph Kony. The US government in the past considered the LRA a terrorist organisation. Ongwen was abducted by the LRA when he was nine and eventually became a military commander for the group. The LRA has diminished in size in recent years and now operates in the border region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Central African Republic, and South Sudan.

The ICC held Ongwen responsible for LRA attacks against the Ugandan civilian population, murder, attempted murder, torture, enslavement, pillaging, outrages upon personal dignity, destruction of property, persecution, forced marriage, rape, sexual slavery, enslavement, forced pregnancy, conscripting children under the age of 15 into an armed group, and using them to participate actively in hostilities. Thousands have been killed by the LRA and tens of of thousands of victims were internally displaced. Notably, the ICC found Dominic Ongwen guilty of 61 counts of crimes against humanity and war crimes in February 2021. That May, the ICC sentenced Ongwen to 25 years imprisonment in a Norwegian prison.

The ICC awarded €52,429,000 to victims, with 750 euros ($812) awarded to each victim as a “symbolic award” and other reparations in the form of community-based programs. The ICC noted in their judgment that Ongwen was financially indigent and that “prompt and effective implementation of individual reparations is unlikely to be possible.” The panel of judges considered it infeasible “to order individual reparations for approximately 49,772 victims when that remedy, in all probability, may take decades to implement or may never be implemented at all.” Reparations will be paid by a trust fund set up for victims in Uganda.

This article has been updated to reflect the fact that Ongwen was sentenced in May 2021.