Dominic Ongwen guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity

Kamilla Sorskar Engen, International Law and Affairs Officer

30 Mar 2021

Dominic Ongwen, a Ugandan commander of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), has been found guilty by the International Criminal Court (ICC) of war crimes and crimes against humanity, after attacking camps for internally displaced people (IDP) across Uganda.

Ongwen was found guilty of 61 crimes against humanity and war crimes between 1 July 2002 and 21 December 2005, including, inter alia, murder, rape torture, sexual enslavement and pillaging. Ongwen was also convicted of the crime of forced pregnancy of seven women, which marks a first for an international criminal court or tribunal. In his role as a commander of the LRA, Ongwen authorised the murder and sexual enslavement of a considerable number of civilians, as well as the recruitment of child soldiers.
These crimes took place within the context of the LRA’s armed uprising against the Ugandan government. Thus, the reasoning provided for such attacks on civilians was their association with the government, through living in government IDP camps, thereby making them the enemy of the rebel group.
The Court examined evidence of attacks on four IDP camps: Pajule, on 10 October 2003, Odek (29 April 2004), Lukodi (on or about 19 May 2004) and Abok (8 June 2004).

The Court acknowledged that Ongwen had ‘suffered much’ as a result of his abduction by the LRA at nine years of age. However, the Court stated that this case concerned ‘crimes committed by Dominic Ongwen as a responsible adult and a commander of the Lord's Resistance Army. His guilt has been established beyond any reasonable doubt.’ And that there was no evidence to support the defence’s claim that he ‘suffered. from any mental disease or disorder during the period relevant to the charges, or that he committed these crimes under duress.'

Read more about Dominic Ongwen’s guilty verdict at the ICC website here: https://www.icc-cpi.int/Pages/item.aspx?name=pr1564