ICC to rule on Ongwen's appeal today

This handout picture taken on May 6, 2021, and released by the International Criminal Court (ICC) shows Dominic Ongwen, a senior commander in Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), during his trial in the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Hague. PHOTO/AFP

What you need to know:

  • Onwen was found guilty of participating in the attacks on the Pajule IDP camp (October 10, 2003),  Odek IDP camp (April 29, 2004), Lukodi IDP camp (May 19, 2004), and Abok IDP camp (June 8, 2004).
  • Today’s verdict will be the court’s final decision as there is no any other higher court than the appeals chambers of the ICC.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) will today pass its final judgment on former Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebel commander Dominic Ongwen.
The appeal chambers of the ICC will either uphold the 25-year jail term handed to Ongwen or will lessen it or even set it aside depending on its findings.
In February last year, Ongwen was found guilty of 61 offences comprising crimes against humanity and war crimes that he committed against civilians in northern Uganda in the early 2000s.
He was subsequently sentenced to 25 years’ imprisonment. But being dissatisfied with the verdict, he appealed against both the conviction and sentence, whose decision will be read out today.

“On December 15 at 11:30am (Hague time), in the case The Prosecutor vs Dominic Ongwen, the Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Court (“ICC” or “Court”) will deliver its judgment on the Defence’s appeals against Mr Ongwen’s conviction and sentence,”  a press statement from the Public Affairs Unit of the ICC sent on Monday, reads in part.
The judges who heard Ongwen’s appeal include Luz del Carmen Ibáñez Carranza (presiding judge), Piotr Hofmański, Solomy Bossa, Reine Alapini-Gansou and Gocha Lordkipanidze.
In the appeal, Ongwen’s lawyers raised 90 grounds consisting of alleged legal, factual and procedural errors relating to the conviction, and 11 grounds of appeal, alleging legal, factual and procedural errors relating to the sentence.

Ongwen, who is currently being held in a detention centre in the Netherlands, became the first member of LRA , an outfit headed by Joseph Kony, to be found culpable for the crimes committed in the two-decade war in northern Uganda that left more than 100,000 people dead and more than 1.8m displaced.
The crimes were in regard to attacks against the civilian population such as murder, attempted murder, torture, enslavement, outrages upon personal dignity, pillaging, destruction of property and persecution.
He was also found guilty of sexual crimes such as forced marriage, rape, sexual slavery, enslavement, forced pregnancy and outrages upon personal dignity he committed against seven women whom he abducted and placed into his household.
Ongwen had claimed to be a victim of Kony’s war since he was also abducted by rebels while still a child on his way to school and forced into rebellion, a defence that the court dismissed.