Reactions to the ICC Reparations Order in the case against Dominic Ongwen in the situation in Uganda

Students for Global Democracy Uganda

Students for Global Democracy Uganda attended the reparation order ruling by the ICC and thereafter contacted some victims and members of the general public about their opinion about the court ruling.

There were mixed reactions by some victims of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) insurgency and among the general public following the International Criminal Court (ICC) ruling on their reparation under the Trust Fund for Victims.

General mixed Reactions after the Screening of ICC Reparation Order in Gulu

  • Survivors of the insurgency by LRA have expressed mixed feelings for Ongwen reparation order:
  • There are victims who feel they were left among the victims.
  • They urgently need livelihood programs for survival since they are passing through a lot after being affected by the war and the government is doing nothing to help them.
  • How are they going to compensate for the harm they suffered?
  • LRA Commander, Dominic Ongwen was rightfully convicted, while others felt that he was forced to commit the crimes against his because he wanted to survive.
  • There is nothing that can be paid for the lives lost in a war.
  • Circumstances conditioned Ongwen, because he was also trying to survive to be killed.
  • How can you compensate those who died or those with invisible wounds like the children who were born in the bush, or those whose parents were killed?


Reactions from Staff Members of Students for Global Democracy Uganda

Habiba Nakanwagi, President at Students for Global Democracy Uganda, said “We welcome the idea of compensation to victims, as SGD Uganda, a member of the CICC, we have been in touch with some of the victims and offered counselling. This compensation is timely and hopefully, the victims will benefit from this initiative. Documentation and proper profiling of victims is pertinent in making sure the fund reaches the most affected.”

When Gesa Mike Munabi, Founder& Advisor at Students for Global Democracy Uganda, contacted said, “The reparation order is an incredible initiative and as members of the Coalition for the ICC in Uganda, we are mandated to see that the reparation process runs smoothly to benefit the real victims.”

Sam Kayiwa, Project Officer in charge of Human Rights and Civic Space at Students for Global Democracy Uganda said “The money that will be compensated to victims should not be uniform, because of the uniqueness of their cases - there are people who lost loved ones and there those who lost property and should be considered for compensation differently. These unique cases can be identified during the profiling of the victims.”

Peter Kafuko Waiswa , Head of Programmes at Students for Global Uganda said “It is long overdue, I welcome the reparation order, it is a great idea for the for healing process.”


Reactions from partner organizations, opinion leaders and some Victims

  • Mr. Anthony Akol, the Chairman of the Acholi Parliamentary Group, said there was need to conduct a deeper analysis of the atrocities that Kony war had on the people of Northern Uganda if adequate compensation can be awarded.
  • The Northern Uganda Diocese Bishop, Nelson Onono Oweny retired welcomed the ruling “The order and ruling are good, at least justice has been delivered. But the painful thing is that the money is not there right now and yet the war victims are desperate for it.
  • Hawa Nalule, the head of programmes of our partner organization, Youth Compassion for Humanity Uganda, said the payments are symbolic because you cannot compensate a lost life, we need to intervene by providing skills training for war victims to sustain themselves and heal their trauma through psycho-social support.
  • Jimmy Kidega, an LRA war victim who now lives in Jinja, in eastern Uganda and lost his father and other family members said, “the reparation order is good but, it is unfortunate that I was not contacted by anybody.”
  • Bongomin Raymond, a victim whose father was abducted in 1991, said the compensation award should consider indirect victims too, because he has never been contacted yet he has suffered a lot due to the loss of his father.
  • Johnbosco Komaketch, a survivor of the LRA war, said that many young boys were forced to commit these atrocities against their will and Ongwen is not exceptional.
  • Samuel Kayiwa contacted Stella Lanam, Executive Director of War Victims and Children Networking based in Gulu, said, “They welcome the court’s ruling in compensating war victims of the LRA insurgency, but they are appealling to the International Criminal Court, in addition to the 3.2 million shillings (750 euros) that is going to be paid to each victim as compensation, women who returned from the LRA captivity should be given special consideration by adding them more to address their challenges. She said many of these women were abducted as children and came out of the war as mothers but majority of them were rejected by society and this has rendered them vulnerable with no land for cultivation and their children are not going to school. She also said, that “many of them failed to trace the fathers of their children since most of them died during the war and others have since changed their names.”
  • Ms. Betty Lalam, the proprietor of Gulu War Affected Training Centre described the ruling as “great news” to the victims but she was pessimistic about whether the would –be- beneficiaries have the financial literacy to effectively use the award money.


SGD Uganda Recommendations:

  • The civil society organizations should play a leading role in profiling and identifying direct and indirect victims for compensation given the history of controversies that engulf compensation processes in Uganda. For example, there is need to carry out a thorough study of victims of the LRA insurgency in Northern Uganda, Eastern Uganda and West Nile region.
  • There should be categorizing of victims to understand their unique challenges to be able to design targeted interventions for the victims than generalizing all the victims.
  • As civil society we should be offering physical and psychosocial support to victims.
  • Civil society organizations should design programs aimed at fostering community dialogues in LRA affected communities on issues of tolerance, reconciliation and peaceful coexistence.
  • There is need to design skilling programmes to enable LRA victims become self-reliant.


Image © ICC-CPI