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.
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.
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.
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.
Three Endangered Rothschild’s Giraffes Die of Electrocution in Kenya
The Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) has confirmed that three Rothschild’s giraffes have died after being electrocuted by low-hanging power powerlines at a Soysambu conservancy in Nakuru.
News Central reports that Rothschild’s giraffe are one of the most endangered species of the animal with estimate putting their population at less than 1,600 in the wild.
Kenya has about 600 Rothschild’s.
KWS said officials from the state-owned power distributing company, Kenya Power, would replace the poles.
“Preliminary reports indicate that the height of the electricity poles crossing Soysambu Conservancy are low, below giraffe’s height,” a statement read in part.
Dr Paula Kahumbu, the Producer and Host of Wildlife Warriors CEO WildlifeDirect, alleged in a tweet that the deaths could have been prevented if experts’ advise was heeded.
In another tweet, Kahumbu added that these deaths were not the first, and that they could have been prevented if expert advice had been followed.
“These power lines have been killing giraffes, vultures and flamingos. Advice from experts was ignored. RIAs [Risk Impact Assessments] are notoriously poor on many development projects. Sad that it takes these kinds of deaths to wake some people up!” she tweeted.
Teachers Strike in Malawi
The Teachers Union of Malawi (TUM) on Monday began an indefinite strike action that coincided with school resumption and the new academic year.
The teachers, who are demanding an increase in wages as well as COVID-19 risk allowance, on Monday boycotted classrooms saying they feel unsafe in school environments.
TUM is also demanding that teachers be given personal protective equipment (PPE), training on how to deal with Covid-19 cases within their schools and a plan for social distancing in classrooms.
President Lazarus Chakwera ordered schools to be closed five weeks ago following a sharp rise in Covid-19 infections and deaths.
Schools were to reopen on Monday after a drop in the number of cases of coronavirus.
Local media is reporting that most students returned home after reporting to school in the morning.
In the town of Mponela, 65km north of the Capital, Lilongwe, learners closed roads with huge stones and tree branches to express solidarity with their teachers.
Police have since dispersed the protest.
Ministry of education spokesman, Chikondi Chimala, said the government was holding meetings with teachers’ representatives to resolve the issue.
Ethiopia: Six Students Feared Dead in Tigray’s Bus Attack
No fewer than six students are feared dead after gunmen attacked a bus in Tigray, northern Ethiopia.
According to reports, there was a shootout between the attackers and soldiers escorting the bus, which was carrying students returning from a graduation ceremony in the Tigray’s capital, Mekelle.
The bus was reportedly stopped many times at road blocks as it made its way from Mekelle.
It is not clear who carried out the attack but this shows Tigray is still volatile months after the federal government said the conflict with the regional authorities was over.
Meanwhile, the United Nations says civilians in Tigray are facing “extremely alarming” hunger as fighting between federal government forces and the regional Tigray Peoples’ Liberation Front (TFPL) remained an obstacle to reaching millions of people with aid.
The Ethiopia/Tigray conflict, now in its fourth month, has killed thousands of people. But little is known about the situation for most of Tigray’s six million people, as journalists are blocked from entering, communications are patchy and many aid workers struggle to obtain permission to enter.
Civilians have suffered and reports from aid workers on the ground indicate a rising in acute malnutrition across the region. According to the UN, starvation has become a major concern.
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