Justice Prevails as Former Ugandan Child Soldier is Sentenced to 25 years for War Crimes

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has sentenced Dominic Ongwen, a former Ugandan child soldier who became a rebel commander, to 25 years in prison.

The rebel group, Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) led by Joseph Kony committed a series of war crimes in Uganda during a reign of terror in the 2000s.

He was judged as being guilty for war crimes and crimes against humanity in Uganda. These crimes include murder, rape, sexual enslavement, child abductions and torture.

The now 45-year-old Ongwen is the first former Ugandan child soldier to be convicted and sentenced by the International Criminal Court.

Ongwen, who was a feared commander of the LRA rebel group, was abducted by the group when he was just nine-years-old. While delivering judgement, the Judges at the ICC said Ongwen’s own abduction as a schoolboy and tortured past prevented him from being handed a life sentence.

The Judges found him culpable because he committed some of the grave crimes as an adult with a full sense of responsibility.

Judge Bertram Schmitt told the court on Thursday: “The chamber is confronted in the present case with a unique situation.”

He said Ongwen was “a perpetrator who willfully brought tremendous suffering upon his victims, however, also a perpetrator who himself has previously endured extreme suffering at the hands of the group of which he later became a prominent member and leader”.

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