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Organizations Extorting Money from LRA War Victims to Benefit from Reparation

Maria Kamara Mabinti, the ICC Outreach Coordinator for East Africa says they have noted concerns that some organizations are now registering the war victims in the case locations to benefit from the reparation program.
ICC Outreach Coordinators, LRA War Victims and Some Local Leaders During a Dislogue in Gulu City -Photo by Jesse Johnson James

Audio 2

Fraudsters are extorting money from victims of the Lord’s Resistance Army-LRA insurgency in Northern Uganda in the guise of registering them to benefit from reparation. 

The ICC through the Trust Fund for Victims is currently consulting selected organizations and individuals on the reparations of the war victims in the region following the sentencing of Dominic Ongwen to 25 years in prison in May last year.

Ongwen was found guilty by the court for a total of 61 crimes comprising war crimes and crimes against humanity in Northern Uganda between July 1 and December 31, 2015.

His defence lawyers appealed the sentencing with the judgment of the appeal expected to be delivered in December by the ICC Appeals Chamber. If the appeals chamber upholds his sentencing, victims of the war in which Ongwen is convicted will receive reparation for the atrocities they suffered.

Maria Kamara Mabinti, the ICC Outreach Coordinator for East Africa says they have noted concerns that some organizations are now registering the war victims in the case locations to benefit from the reparation program.

Although she didn’t highlight the case locations, Kamara says the organizations are charging about 20,000 Shillings for each person to be registered.

According to Kamara, the registration of the victims is illegal because the ICC has not yet rolled out the reparation program and once it does, the victims to benefit shall be registered free of charge.

// Cue in: “No reparation has…

Cue out …by the judges.” //

Kamara who declined to disclose the identity of the organizations extorting says the reparations shall only kickoff after the final ruling of Ongwen’s case before the Appeals Chamber.

Stella Lanam, the Executive Director of War Victims and Children Networking told URN in an interview that last year, they identified three organizations that were extorting money from the victims.

Lanam revealed that the organizations were cautioned against the vice before letting them go.

Lanam says they are currently on the lookout and warned that anybody extorting money from the war victims shall be arrested, charged, and prosecuted.

// Cue in: “Ka ICC otyeko…

Cue out …kwedgi ki cik.” //

Justin Ocan, the LRA war victim’s representative from Lukodi in Gulu District however says they have not yet registered any case of extortion on Lukodi and also appealed to the victims to be very vigilant.

Jelena Vukasinovic, the ICC Chief Country Office Uganda told Journalists at The Hague last month that the outreach team will engage in the identification of victims of the LRA war in the region once they get instructions from Judges.

She also noted that the victims who participated in the trial of Ongwen were only granted the right to participate in the trial but do not necessarily represent the numbers of beneficiaries for the reparation.

4,095 victims were granted the right to participate in Ongwen’s trial proceedings and were represented by two teams of lawyers.