KAMPALA — The United States of America has welcomed the verdict in the case against former Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) commander, Dominic Ongwen, for war crimes and crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court (ICC).
The US says this is a significant step for justice and accountability for atrocities committed by the LRA.
“We hope that this verdict brings some measure of peace to the many victims,” a statement shared to this website indicated.
The United States helped facilitate the voluntary surrender and transfer of Ongwen to the ICC in 2015.
“While we continue to believe the ICC is in need of significant reform, we are pleased to see Ongwen brought to justice. There was extensive outreach to victims’ groups in northern Uganda during Ongwen’s trial, including broadcasting of the trial to affected communities,” the statement noted adding:
“We hope Ongwen’s conviction demonstrates to the people of Uganda that the perpetrators of the crimes committed against them will be held accountable, there will be justice, and the horrible legacy of the LRA’s tactics to perpetuate and prolong violence and abuse will be addressed. The United States stands with all the victims of Ongwen and the LRA”.
The US also announced a reward of up to $5 million for information that leads to the arrest, transfer, or conviction of Joseph Kony, leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army.
Dominic Ongwen was convicted of war crimes and crimes against humanity including attacks against a civilian population; murder and attempted murder; rape; sexual slavery; forced marriage; torture; enslavement; outrage upon personal dignity; conscription and use of children under the age of 15 to participate actively in hostilities; pillaging; destruction of property and persecution.
Dominic Ongwen has an automatic right to appeal today’s decision.
Dominic Ongwen was the former commander of the Sinia Brigade, one of several LRA brigades. As one of the highest commanders of the LRA, Dominic Ongwen was responsible for devising and implementing the LRA’s military strategy.
An arrest warrant for war crimes and crimes against humanity was issued against him in 2005. Dominic Ongwen was transferred to the custody of the ICC on 21 January 2015, after being taken into custody in the Central African Republic by the United States working with the African Union (AU) Regional Taskforce on 5 January 2015.
The ICC opened its investigation into the situation in Uganda in July 2004. Arrest warrants for LRA commanders Joseph Kony and Vincent Otti are outstanding, as the two suspects remain at large. No ICC cases have commenced into allegations of crimes under international law committed by the Ugandan People’s Defence Force.