Uganda: Compensation Strategy for Victims of Former Warlord Dominic Ongwen Unveiled

Soukaina Sghir
Soukaina Sghir
2 Min Read

The international justice system announced a compensation plan exceeding 52 million euros for the victims of Dominic Ongwen, a former Ugandan child soldier turned rebel commander, who was sentenced to 25 years in prison for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

In 2021 and later in 2022, Ongwen was found guilty by the International Criminal Court (ICC), based in The Hague, Netherlands, for murder, rape, and sexual slavery committed in northern Uganda during the early 2000s.

The ICC has delineated the amount and nature of reparations for victims of Dominic Ongwen, a former commander of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). The court’s decision includes individual aid of 750 euros for each victim, alongside collective rehabilitation projects in northern Uganda.

Nearly 50,000 individuals have been recognized by the court as victims of crimes perpetrated by Dominic Ongwen or under his command between 2002 and 2005. These include civilians abducted from internally displaced persons camps, women subjected to rape, and child soldiers.

Criticism has emerged regarding the adequacy of the compensation, particularly from Sam Okello, Director of Hope North, an association established in 1997 to support children affected by the LRA. Okello questions the value placed on human life: “What is the price of a life lost? I doubt Ongwen can compensate anyone in the north. Life is invaluable, and no financial compensation can equate to it.”

The emphasis by the court, however, lies on collective rehabilitation projects, aiming to address the physical and moral harm inflicted upon victims and enhance their living conditions. Okello underscores the importance of addressing underlying causes of conflicts, advocating for economic development in northern Uganda to prevent future conflicts: “Let’s bolster Uganda’s economy to foster a stable society. That’s a more effective solution.”

The total cost of reparations is estimated at 52 million euros. The President of the Court has called upon states, businesses, and private individuals to contribute towards achieving this sum.


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