International Crimes Court Convicts Dominic Ongwen of War Crimes

Although the trial began in December 2016, Thursday’s historic ruling identifying for the first time the usage of ‘forced pregnancy’ is a legal first in an international court.

The International Criminal Court sitting at The Hague, Netherlands, has convicted Ugandan child soldier-turned-warlord Dominic Ongwen for crimes against humanity including maiming, torturing, forced marriage, forced pregnancy, and leading an army of fighters in displacing communities in northern Uganda.

The ICC judges said prosecutors had proved 61 crimes against Ongwen, out of the 70 he was accused of committing. Most of the crimes, the judges found, had been systemic meaning that Ongwen may have been leader of a group that committed them under his command.

Dominic Ongwen of Uganda sits in the courtroom of the International Criminal Court (ICC) during the confirmation of charges in the Hague, the Netherlands 21 January 2016. The former commander in Uganda’s Lord’s Resistance Army rebel group is facing some 70 war crimes charges brought forward by the ICC. EPA/MICHAEL KOOREN / POOL

Ongwen, a former senior commander in the Lord’s Resistance Army, whose fugitive leader Joseph Kony is one of the world’s most-wanted war crimes suspects. He is said to have committed the crimes between July 2002 and December 2005.

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Presiding judge Bertram Schmitt said while delivering his verdict “the chamber is aware that he suffered much.
“However, this case is about crimes committed by Dominic Ongwen as a responsible adult and a commander of the Lord’s Resistance Army.
Judge Schmitt added: “His guilt has been established beyond any reasonable doubt.

Judges said he was entirely responsible for the crimes committed and not a “puppet on a string” as earlier thought. He was said to have executed the crimes not under pressure or duress and often defied instructions from his seniors when it didn’t suit him.

Findings show he confined his victims and trained them to perpetuate the crimes. He was considered a child soldier, judges found that he acted as a responsible adult when he drafted other underage fighters and used them in war.

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Although the trial began in December 2016, Thursday’s historic ruling identified for the first time the usage of ‘forced pregnancy’ as a legal first in an international court.


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