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Dominic Ongwen Placed on Mental Health Disorder Treatment

Ongwens diagnosis came after several failed attempts by lawyers to convince The Hague based Court that the traumatic experiences from the LRA-led war in Northern Uganda make Dominic Ongwen mentally unfit to stand trial for War crimes and Crimes against humanity.
ICC Registrar Peter Lewis (Middle Center) Speaking To Delegation of Ugandan Community Leaders Headed By Paramount Chief of Acholi His Highness David Onen Achana (First Right)

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Dominic Ongwen, the former commander of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) is undergoing treatment for fresh incidents of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

The condition develops after exposure to terrifying events or ordeals in which grave physical harm occurred or was threatened, according to the National Center for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. It manifests as flashbacks, nightmares, depression and worry. Some people with the disorder may constantly feel tense, have difficulty sleeping and often have angry outbursts.

Ongwen's diagnosis came after several failed attempts by lawyers to convince The Hague based Court that the traumatic experiences from the LRA-led war in Northern Uganda make Dominic Ongwen mentally unfit to stand trial for War crimes and Crimes against humanity.

Ongwen is now being treated by ICC Psychiatrists and Psychologists who had recommended to the Court to shorten the length of time he spends in court to facilitate his healing and rehabilitation, according to his lawyer Krispus Ayena Odongo from The Hague.

 

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Ayena adds that the defense had asked the court to allow him to appear only four times instead of five times in a week for the remaining schedule of the trial this year. But Judge Bertram Schmitt rejected the application saying the schedule is not too jammed to affect his treatment. Prosecutors led by Fatou Bensouda had also refused the request.

He, however, hastens to add that although the International Criminal Court took some time to decide to start Ongwen on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder rehabilitation, his new treatment regimen is sufficient and efficient enough to allow him to commence and proceed with his defense in the case against him before the court.

 

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Ayena says that Ongwen has already been put on a robust medical regime to try and control the mental health condition he describes as very serious.

 

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Since he was transferred to the Court in 2015, Dominic Ongwen has been undergoing several rehabilitation therapies including lighter ones like musical, sports and education. 

Peter Lewis, the Registrar of the International Criminal Court says Dominic Ongwen has learned enough IT Skills to facilitate a better understanding of the case brought against him and the progress of his ongoing trial before the International Court.

 

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Paolina Massida, the Legal Representative of one set of Victims participating in the trial says Dominic Ongwen is not the only victim of the Conflict suffering from recurrent mental problems. She says many of the victims called to testify at the court continue to experience mass trauma, many years after the guns went silent.

 

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Ongwen is facing 70 counts of charges related to sexual and gender-based crimes, war crimes and crimes against humanity he is accused of committing while serving in the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA).

He has pleaded not guilty to all the counts he is alleged to have committed between July 1, 2002, and December 31, 2005, during attacks on civilians in camps for internally displaced persons in Abok, Odek, Lukodi and Pajule between 2002 and 2005.

Since the late 1980's, the LRA has allegedly killed and mutilated thousands of civilians and abducted an estimated 52,000 to 75,000 people to serve as soldiers, porters, and sex slaves for its commanders.