UN, U.S. welcome ex-Uganda rebel commander’s conviction at ICC

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The United Nations and United States on Thursday welcomed the conviction of former Ugandan rebel commander, Dominic Ongwen, at the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Ongwen, who commanded the notorious Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), was convicted on 61 counts of crimes against humanity and war crimes.

He committed the offences, which included sexual and gender-based crimes, in Northern Uganda between July 2002 and December 2005, according to the UN.

Ongwen is the first LRA member to face the ICC, and the ruling also found him guilty of forced marriage and pregnancy.

In a statement, UN spokesman, Mr Stephane Dujarric, described the court’s decision as a “significant milestone in accountability”.

Dujarric said the ruling was also “a step forward in efforts to bring justice to the victims of LRA crimes, and reaffirms that impunity will not be tolerated”. 

“It also marks the first time that the crime of forced marriage has been considered by the ICC, and highlights the critical need to eradicate sexual and gender-based violence,” he said.

The U.S. Department of State also reacted to the judgment through its spokesman, Mr Ned Price, who said it was a significant step to hold the LRA accountable for its atrocities.

Price, who said the U.S. helped to secure Ongwen’s surrender and transfer to the ICC in 2015, added that he hoped many victims of LRA’s atrocities find peace in the verdict.

“We hope Ongwen’s conviction demonstrates to the people of Uganda that the perpetrators of the crimes committed against them will be held accountable, there will be justice, and the horrible legacy of the LRA’s tactics to perpetuate and prolong violence and abuse will be addressed. 

“The United States stands with all the victims of Ongwen and the LRA,” the spokesman said.

Price reaffirmed a US$5 million (about N1.9 billion) reward by the U.S. for information leading to the arrest, transfer, or conviction of LRA’s leader, Joseph Kony. (NAN)

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