Today ICC judges declared LRA commander Ongwen guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Uganda between 2002 and 2005. The Mukwege Foundation welcomes that the rebel leader’s conviction includes a wide range of sexual and gender-based crimes, namely forced marriage, torture, rape, sexual slavery, enslavement and forced pregnancy.
This conviction is a crucial step towards accountability for sexual and gender-based crimes and highlights the gravity of such crimes which is of paramount importance. Rape and other forms of sexual violence are some of the oldest crimes in history but remain as of today some of the least reported and condemned.
Following the conviction of Ntanganda in 2019 for rape and sexual slavery as crimes against humanity committed in the Democratic Republic of Congo, this verdict of the ICC Trial Chamber is only the second ruling by The Hague based Court recognizing sexual and gender-based crimes as the most serious crimes of international concern and the first decision based on the crime of forced pregnancy.
The Mukwege Foundation raises high hopes that the thousands of victims who took part in the proceedings will receive reparation and encourages the Office of Prosecutor to fully implement and prioritize its policy on sexual and gender-based crimes and contribute to the establishment of a red line towards the use of rape as a weapon of war and as a strategy of terror.