International Justice Monitor

A project of the Open Society Justice Initiative

Human Rights Groups to Inter-American Court: Impunity is Alive and Well in Guatemala

President Jimmy Morales invited the Inter-American Court of Human Rights to conduct its 57th session in Guatemala City, perhaps hoping to repair the country’s tattered relationship with the international organization. However, in extending this invitation, he may not have expected the court to be reviewing Guatemala’s own record on accountability for grave crimes.

During its visit, which took place from March 20 to 25, 2017, the court held a private, closed-door session to review the implementation of 14 sentences it handed down between 1998 and 2012 against the state of Guatemala in grave human rights cases related to the internal armed conflict. The session was a follow-up to a similar hearing held in Costa Rica in 2014, when human rights organizations … Continue Reading

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Witness Tells Court About Attacks on Pajule and Odek Camps

A witness narrated to the International Criminal Court (ICC) what happened in attacks on the Pajule and Odek camps for internally displaced people in northern Uganda, attacks which form part of the charges against Dominic Ongwen at the ICC.

Witness P-309 told the court on Tuesday that he was selected to take part in the raids carried by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) on Pajule and Odek. The witness also told the court that soon after he was abducted, he was assigned to serve as an escort to Ongwen.

The witness testified under protective in-court measures that include distortion of his voice and face in public broadcasts of the proceedings. He is also publicly identified by pseudonym. Witness P-309 is testifying with a … Continue Reading

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Witness Tells Court He Has Nothing Good to Say About Ongwen

A prosecution witness told the International Criminal Court (ICC) that he had nothing good to say about Dominic Ongwen, despite a defense lawyer asking him several times how he would describe Ongwen as a person.

Krispus Ayena Odongo, Ongwen’s lead defense counsel, asked Witness P-379 on Monday to describe Ongwen. The witness was a member of a Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) battalion Ongwen commanded, known as the Oka battalion.

Ongwen has been charged with 70 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity. Some of the charges against him are for his alleged role in attacks on four camps for internally displaced people, namely Pajule, Odek, Abok, and Lukodi. The attacks took place between 2003 and 2004. Ongwen is also charged with … Continue Reading

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Kwoyelo’s Trial Drags On in Ugandan Court as Defense Counsel Labels the Charges ‘Fatally and Incurably Defective’

Colonel Thomas Kwoyelo, a former commander in the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), is currently facing charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity before the International Crimes Division (ICD) of the High Court in Uganda. Kwoyelo has been in detention since he was captured by the Ugandan army in 2008.

The start of Kwoyelo’s trial, however, does not appear imminent. Delays have characterized his case since 2008, the latest being an intense debate on whether or not the ICD has jurisdiction to try Kwoyelo using international criminal law for crimes committed in a domestic setting.

Kwoyelo first appeared before the ICD in 2011, but the start of his trial was delayed as a result of preliminary objections raised by his defense lawyers … Continue Reading

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ICC Issues Order for Reparations to Victims of Crimes Committed by Former Congolese Militia Leader

In a hearing this morning, International Criminal Court (ICC) judges read a decision awarding 297 victims of crimes committed by former Congolese militia leader Germain Katanga a symbolic compensation of USD 250 per victim. Victims were also awarded collective reparations in the form of support for housing, support for income-generating activities, education aid, and psychological support. In reaching their decision, judges took into account the needs of all victims and consultations undertaken with them and sought to ensure their safety, physical, and psychological well‑being and privacy.

This is significant because it is only the second time in the court’s history that an award for reparations has been ordered, and it is the first time that the court has awarded reparations to … Continue Reading

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La CPI a émis une ordonnance de réparation pour les victimes des crimes commis par l’ancien chef de milice congolais

À l’audience de ce matin, les juges de la Cour pénale internationale (CPI) ont lu une décision accordant à 297 victimes des crimes commis par l’ancien chef de milice congolais Germain Katanga une compensation symbolique de 250 USD par victime. Les victimes se sont vus également accorder des réparations collectives sous la forme d’aides au logement, d’aides pour les activités génératrices de revenus, d’aides à l’éducation ainsi que sous la forme d’un soutien psychologique. En prenant leur décision, les juges ont tenu compte des besoins de toutes les victimes et des consultations menées auprès d’elles tout en cherchant à garantir leur sécurité, leur bien-être physique et psychologique‑ainsi que leur vie privée.

Cet élément a son importance car il s’agit seulement de la seconde … Continue Reading

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Réactions des victimes congolaises dans la perspective des réparations dans l’affaire Lubanga

Cet article a été préparé par notre partenaire Radio Canal Révélation, une station radio basée à Bunia, en République démocratique du Congo (RDC), dans le cadre d’un projet de radio interactive pour la justice et la paix qui favorise la mise en débat des questions touchant à la justice en RDC.

Les victimes des crimes commis par Thomas Lubanga dans un groupement de la communauté Lendu dans la Province de l’Ituri, ont accueilli favorablement la décision du Fonds au Profit des Victimes (Fonds) affectant un million d’euros aux réparations collectives en République démocratique du Congo.

« Nous acceptons que le Fonds nous construise des stades, des centres de santé, réhabilite nos routes… ceci va nous faire oublier les crimes du passé… [M]algré … Continue Reading

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Reactions of Congolese Victims to the Prospect of Reparations in the Lubanga Case

The below article is from our partner at Radio Canal Révélation, a radio station based in Bunia, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The article was produced as part of the radio station’s Interactive Radio for Justice and Peace Project, which promotes discussion on critical issues around justice in DRC.

The victims of crimes committed by Thomas Lubanga within the Lendu community in Ituri Province have welcomed the decision of the Trust Fund for Victims (the Fund) that allocated one million Euros to collective reparations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

“We agree to the Fund building stadiums, healthcare centers, repairing our roads… this is going to make us forget the crimes of the past… [I]n spite of everything, we are brothers, … Continue Reading

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ICC Judges Hand Bemba €300,000 Fine, Defense Lawyers Get Suspended Sentences

Jean-Pierre Bemba has been handed the heaviest penalty among the five individuals sentenced today for tampering with witnesses at the International Criminal Court (ICC). Judges also issued suspended sentences for Bemba’s two former lawyers and also imposed monetary penalties on two of those convicted.

The former vice president of Congo was sentenced to one-year in prison and fined €300,000, which he has to pay within three months. His former lead defense counsel, Aimé Kilolo Musamba, was fined €30,000, also payable in three months, and handed a prison sentence of two-and-a-half years, suspended over three years. The two fines shall ultimately be transferred to the Trust Fund for Victims.

Judges ruled that the time Bemba’s four associates spent in pre-trial detention should be … Continue Reading

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Witness Describes Poor Living Conditions in the LRA and IDP Camps

A prosecution witness told the International Criminal Court (ICC) that most fighters of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) slept in the open on the ground because the group had a limited number of tents and beds, which were used by the commanders.

Witness P-379 said on Tuesday LRA commanders were also given priority when it came to food. He said if food was scarce then the choice bits, such as beans or chicken or goat meat, were served to the commanders.

The witness testified about his experience in the Oka battalion of the LRA, which he said was led by Dominic Ongwen at the time he was a member. Ongwen is on trial at the ICC on 70 counts of war crimes … Continue Reading

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