ICC orders Shs223b compensation to jailed Ongwen's victims

Ugandan former child soldier Dominic Ongwen looks on prior to the ruling in the appeal at the International Criminal Court, in The Hague on December 15, 2022. PHOTO/AFP

What you need to know:

  • The court, however, warned that without adequate fundraising and support from well-wishers, the Trust Fund for victims could fail to pay the reparations as ordered.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has ordered that €52.4m (approximately over Shs223.7b) be paid to direct and indirect victims of atrocities committed by jailed former Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebel commander Dominic Ongwen.

According to the order delivered during a public hearing in courtroom 1 of the Hague-based court in the live presence of Ongwen, his defence team, legal representatives of victims, and the common legal representative of victims, court directed the Trust Fund for victims assess and submit to the court, the victims' data and the reparations protocol in six months.

In the order read by presiding judge Bertram Schmitt, the victims’ compensations will be in form of collective community-based reparations and a separate symbolic individual (victim) payment of €750 to each of more than 49,000 victims recorded.

“In light of all these (atrocities by Ongwen), the chamber estimates that the total amount required to provide reparations to victims of crimes in this case for which Ongwen was convicted would be approximately,” judge Schmitt stated.

“The chamber is satisfied that setting the amount of Ongen’s liability at €52,429,000 is fair, equitable and appropriate and takes into account the rights of the victims and those of the convicted person,” he added.

The court also instructed the Trust Fund for victims to prepare and draft implementation plans with the details of reparation and symbolic measures to be included within the collective community-based reparation awarded.

“The Trust Fund for Victims should submit the DIP for the Chamber’s approval within six months from the delivery of this order. The chamber instructs the Trust Fund to consult with the victims on the nature of the collective community-based awards and the methods of implementation,” ICC said.

The court adopted the eligibility process designed by Trial Chamber 2 in the Ntaganda Case to determine the administrative eligibility assessment process.

Upon failing to identify any properties belonging to Ongwen to date, the court said he was too broke to be a party to the reparation.

To calculate the amount required to provide the symbolic payment, the court relied on its estimation of the total number of victims in the case which amounted to approximately 49,772 victims.

“As such the total amount required to provide victims with this symbolic payment is €37.3m. As to the other community symbolic and all satisfaction measures, the chamber considers it fair and appropriate to estimate the costs which include apologies, ceremonies, monuments, memorial prayers, and reconciliation prayers at €1,000.

During the hearing, court also awarded € 750 as part of the collective community-based program.

“It is awarded to the benefit of all eligible victims without distinction to their type of victim or harm,” it ruled.

Court added: “In light of the convicted person’s indigence, the Chamber acknowledges that there is a concrete risk that the awards may not be paid if the Trust Fund does not manage to raise sufficient funds to manage the awards.”

ICC on Wednesday encouraged states, organizations, corporations and private individuals to support the Trust Fund in fundraising.

On May 6, 2021, Trial Chamber IX sentenced Ongwen to 25 years imprisonment, which he appealed against.

But the Appeals Chamber of the same court on December 15, 2022, upheld the decisions of Trial Chamber IX on Ongwen’s 25-year jail sentence.

The conviction and the sentence are now final.

He was on December 18, 2023, transferred to Norway to serve his sentence.

On May 6, 2021, the chamber issued an order for submissions on reparations.