ICC orders 52 mn euros for Ugandan former child soldier victims | World News - Hindustan Times
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ICC orders 52 mn euros for Ugandan former child soldier victims

AFP |
Feb 28, 2024 10:54 PM IST

ICC orders 52 mn euros for Ugandan former child soldier victims

International judges on Wednesday awarded victims of Ugandan child soldier-turned-commander Dominic Ongwen more than 52 million euros in reparations, saying women and children especially suffered "serious and long-lasting harm".

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Ongwen, who was himself abducted aged nine by the rebel group led by the fugitive Joseph Kony, was found guilty in 2021 and sentenced to 25 years behind bars for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

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The crimes were committed while Ongwen was part of Kony's Lord's Resistance Army, which carried out a reign of terror in northern Uganda in the early 2000s.

"The direct victims of the attacks, the direct victims of sexual and gender-based crimes and the children born out of those crimes as well as the former child soldiers suffered serious and long-lasting, physical, moral and material harm," ICC judge Bertram Schmitt said.

"The Chamber estimates that the total amount required for the reparations awarded in this case to the victims of the crimes, for which Mr Ongwen was convicted, would be approximately 52,429,000 euros ($56.7 million)," the judge said.

Judges estimated a total of victims eligible for payment "close to 50,000" with a symbolic award of around 750 euros per victim.

They ordered the amount to be paid collectively as it "will ensure a more efficient and practical approach", Judge Schmitt told the Hague-based International Criminal Court.

Judges asked the court's Trust Fund for Victims to arrange for the reparations to be made as Ongwen -- who is currently serving his sentence in a Norwegian prison -- was unable to pay.

Ongwen, who is in his mid-40s, but whose birth date remains unclear, became a senior commander in Kony's LRA under the nom de guerre of "White Ant".

Prosecutors portrayed him as leading a reign of terror by the LRA, personally ordering the massacres of more than 130 civilians at five refugee camps between 2002 and 2005.

The LRA is responsible for the deaths of more than 100,000 people and the kidnapping of 60,000 children with boys transformed into child soldiers and girls kept as sex slaves.

ICC prosecutor Karim Khan in 2022 said he would ask judges to confirm charges against Kony despite his absence, as the rebel leader is still at large.

Ongwen's trial was unique in the history of the ICC as it was the first time dealing with a former victim, a child soldier, who became a perpetrator.

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