Celebration ensued at Soroti High Court on Thursday following the judge’s directive for the government to compensate Teso war victims with over Shs20 million each, in a case that remained unresolved for more than 15 years.
The lawsuit, initiated by more than 3,000 claimants led by former Kapelebyong MP Julius Ochen and Kasilo county MP Elijah Okupa, contested the loss of property, livestock, and lives in Teso between 1986 and 1994, as well as the 2003 LRA incursion. Represented by their legal counsel, Richard Omongole, the claimants were finally awarded the compensation.
In his ruling, Justice Henry Peter Adonyo emphasized the violation of Articles 21, 22, and 24 of the 1995 Constitution, emphasizing the government’s responsibility to safeguard citizens’ lives, ensure equality regardless of ethnicity, and prevent the infliction of torture.
According to the judgment, the government is required to pay Shs20 million for each adult, Shs10 million for each child, and Shs3 million for each claimant as compensation for the suffered damages during the legal pursuit of war claims.
The compensations primarily account for the loss of livestock and lives during various distressing events, including the 1986-1994 cattle raids by the Karimojongs, the repercussions of the Uganda People’s Army (UPA) rebellion, and the 2003 LRA incursion in Teso. Additionally, the court ordered a 6% interest to be awarded to the plaintiffs from the date of the judgment until full payment.
Justice Adonyo specified that the livestock rates would be determined based on the prevailing rates during the years they were lost. The court acknowledged the claimants’ substantial evidence regarding the loss of lives, torture, and property, which the state did not dispute.
Lillian Omurangi of Omongole and Company Advocates underscored the violation of human rights resulting from the government’s failure to protect the people of Teso. She expressed hope that the government would honor the court’s ruling as pronounced.
Seventy-year-old resident William Opio from Wera, Amuria District, expressed his desire for the government to promptly fulfill the court’s decision, highlighting the substantial losses suffered by him and his family, including the loss of livestock and loved ones.