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Victims of jailed Ugandan militia leader to receive $56 million in compensation- ICC

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   -  
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**The International Criminal Court on Wednesday granted reparations of more than $56 million to thousands of victims of Dominic Ongwen, a convicted commander in the Ugandan rebel group the Lord’s Resistance Army.**An ICC appeals panel also upheld his convictions and 25-year sentence.

Ongwen who was not in court for the reparations hearing was convicted in late 2022 of 61 offenses, including murders, rapes, forced marriages and recruiting child soldiers between 2002-2005. 

The nearly 50,000 victims covered by Wednesday's order included former child soldiers and children born as a result of rapes and forced pregnancies.

"Tens of thousands of individuals suffered tremendous harm due to the unimaginable atrocities committed" as rebel fighters led by Ongwen attacked four camps for displaced people in northern Uganda, said Presiding Judge Bertram Schmitt.

The presiding judge ruled that since Ongwen is indigent, the reparations will be paid by a trust fund for victims set up by the court’s member states.

Schmitt urged "states, organisations, corporations and private individuals to support the trust funds for victims’ mission and efforts and contribute to its fundraising activities."

Victims would each receive $812 as a "symbolic award" while other reparations would come in the form of community-based rehabilitation programmes.

Evidence at Ongwen’s trial established that female civilians captured by the LRA were turned into sex slaves and wives for fighters.

_"Tens of thousands of individuals suffered tremendous harm due to the unimaginable atrocities committed during and in the aftermath of the four attacks. We have spoken about that a moment ago, for, in length. Similarly, over 100 women and girls and thousands of children, boys and girls under the age of 15 suffered profound, multifaceted harm as a result of being kidnapped. Many were later subjected to sexual and gender based crimes and/or forced to serve as LRA (Lord’s Resistance Army) soldiers, being kept in captivity with cruel methods of physical and psychological coercion" -_Judge Bertram Schmitt.

The LRA began its attacks in Uganda in the 1980s, when one of the court’s most-wanted fugitives, Joseph Kony, sought to overthrow the government.

The militia after being pushed out of Uganda, terrorized villages in the DR Congo, Central Africa Republic and South Sudan.

Ongwen was among those abducted by the militia led by Kony. He was transformed into a child soldier at nine years old and later became a senior commander. 

Judges who presided over his trial believed Ongwen was “a fully responsible adult” aware of what he was doing when he committed his crimes.

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