Residents of Pajule town council and Bongtiko Sub-county in Pader
District have reacted to the 25 year jail sentence handed to Former Lord’s
Resistance Army Rebel Commander Dominic Ongwen by the
International Criminal Court-ICC Judges.
The joint sentence was delivered by the ICC Presiding Judge Bertram Schmitt at
The Hague Based Court in the Netherlands on Thursday, four years after Ongwen’s
trial commenced in December 2016.
The child soldier turned rebel warlord was convicted in February this year of
61 out of the 70 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed
between 2003 and 2004 in Northern Uganda.
Delivering his verdict, Judge Schmitt says the chamber decided not to impose a
life sentence basing on the individual circumstances of the perpetrator given
his sufferings as a child soldier turned warlord.
Ongwen was abducted at nine years while heading to school in his
village of Coorom in Amuru District and integrated into the LRA where he later
grew in ranks becoming the commander of the Sinia Brigade.
According to the trial chamber, more than 130 people were killed in attacks on internally
displaced camps, while hundreds of civilians among them children and women were
abducted, tortured, enslaved, and turned into sexual partners during attacks
commanded by Ongwen on three IDP camps.
The IDP camps are Lukoodi in Gulu, Abok in Oyam District, Odek in Omoro, and
Pajule in Pader District. Ongwen’s 25 year’s jail sentence will, however, be
deducted from the period between 12 January 2015 to date 6 May 2021 from which
he has been detained at the ICC detention in the Netherlands according to Judge
In Pajule Town Council, Pader District where Ongwen commanded an attack on
Pajule IDP camp on October 10, 2003, victims of the atrocities welcomed the
verdict and described it as a relief.
At Bongtiko trading centre in Bongtiko Sub-county, Dozens of
victims of the atrocities earlier attentively watched on TV and listed on radio
as the presiding judge delivered the sentence, thousands of kilometres
Francisco Onencan, a resident of Bongtiko trading centre in Bongtiko Sub-county
Pader District says although he had anticipated 30 years jail sentence, he is
happy that justice has finally been served.
Onencan was among several youths who were abducted on October 10 2003 after the
attack on Pajule IDP camp at just 14 years of age. He says he spent seven
months and sustained gunshot injuries which have to date affected him.
//cue in: “ikare ma ongwen…
Cue out:…waci room ongwen.”//
He however says the ICC should now embark on compensating the victims of the
atrocities committed by Ongwen now that he has been sentenced.
//cue in: “wan ma calo…
Cue out:…ki gang kany.”//
Justino Ocira another resident of Bongtiko Subcounty also welcomed the 25
years jail sentence handed to Ongwen for his crimes committed in Northern
Uganda while in the LRA.
Ocira says he lost three of his sons who were abducted from Pajule IDP camp in
2003 and called for a speedy compensation process by the ICC to the victims of
//cue in “wa neon ni…
Cue out:…ki okwo kede.”//
The presiding judge however in his concluding remarks noted that the further
step into extending full justice for the victims of the war will start with
opening the proceedings concerning reparations in favour of the victims of
crimes committed by Ongwen.
He says the Chamber has already issued an order submission of reparation.
“The right of victims to reparation is also an essential part of the system of
justice at this court. It is a further acknowledgement of the suffering
and harms the victims experienced and aims at addressing it. The chamber will
push forward the reparation stage of the proceeding with vigour and the utmost
Ongwen 45 is the first of five LRA rebel commanders indicted by the ICC in 2005
to have faced trial and sentenced to prison.