LRA Victims Seek Collective Compensation from ICC

1771 Views Gulu, Uganda

In short
The court has so far ordered 10 Million US dollar reparations award to victims in the case of former Congolese warlord Thomas Lubanga. Lubanga is challenging the amount describing it as excessive adding that the eligibility of several victims to receive the reparations are also questionable.

Victims of the Lord's Resistance Army - LRA atrocities in Northern Uganda are seeking collective compensation from the International Criminal Court - ICC.

They want judges of the court to order former commander of the Sinia Brigade Dominic Ongwen to pay collective compensation for atrocities of the rebel group if convicted of all or some of the 70 charges he is battling before The Hague based court.

Under the founding treaty of the ICC, judges can order a convict to pay individual or collective compensation after careful assessment of the extent of the damages committed against a community to victims who have participated in the particular trial only.


It can be monetary or infrastructure development such as health care facilities, schools or roads built in the offended community. In the event that the convict can't afford the reparation order, the Trust Funds for Victims bears the task. There are 4,109 victims participating in the Dominic Ongwen trial.


Ongwen faces 70 charges of war crimes, crimes against humanity and sexual and gender-based crimes he is alleged to have committed while commanding the Sinia Brigade of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) in Northern Uganda.

Prosecution allege that Ongwen committed the atrocities in four camps for internally displaced persons in Lukodi, Odek, Abok and Pajule between July 2004 and December 2005. 

Paolina Massida, the Legal Representative of one set of Victims says that they opted for collective compensation on account that the victims of atrocities of conflict are too many to be compensated individually.


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The demand for collective compensation is far different from what victims in Northern Uganda are expecting from the trial of Dominic Ongwen should he be convicted.


Lino Owor Ogora, the Executive Director of Foundation for Justice and Development Initiative (FJDI) says findings from years of interactions with victims across northern Uganda indicate that victims are after individual compensation. 

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Owor says compensating a few victims who have participated in the trial process will leave others very disappointed and stranded at crossroads if the window for registering more victims is not re-opened.


Paolina Massida says the court should listen to the people instead of working in theory that one size fits all in collective compensation.  

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The Trust Funds for Victims was established under the Rome Statute in 2002 to implement court-ordered compensation and to provide physical and psycho social rehabilitation or material support to victims of crimes that fall within the jurisdiction of the court.

The court has so far ordered 10 Million US dollar compensation award to victims in the case of former Congolese warlord Thomas Lubanga. Lubanga is challenging the amount describing it as excessive adding that the eligibility of several victims to receive the compensation is also questionable.

 

About the author

Peter Labeja
Peter Labeja has been a practicing journalist for the last 13 years during which he has covered part of the brutal conflict which bedeviled Northern Uganda as well as the painful transition to Peace thereafter. Emerging post conflict issues such as land rights of under privileged widows and orphans, challenges of access to social services in the immediate aftermath of Lord’s Resistance Army conflict in Northern Uganda.

Labeja is now the Northern Uganda Bureau chief in Acholi Sub Region since 2014 - Gulu, Amuru, Nwoya and Omoro districts as well as South Sudan falls within his areas of jurisdiction. He previously worked with The Vision Group for four years.

Labeja’s major career interests are in Climate Change; Agriculture and Environment - natural resources such as Water, Oil and Gas; Transitional Justice; Human Rights, Democracy and Governance as well as South Sudan’s humanitarian crisis. In 2013, Labeja was awarded a prestigious Pan African Journalism Award for excellence in journalism at United Nation’s UNEP headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya for Climate Change and Health Reporting.