International Justice Monitor

A project of the Open Society Justice Initiative

Appeals Chamber Affirms ICC Can Try Ntaganda Over Rape of Child Soldiers

The Appeals Chamber has affirmed that the International Criminal Court (ICC) has jurisdiction over cases in which soldiers of an armed group commit war crimes against members of the same group. The decision puts to rest Bosco Ntaganda’s contention that the court based in The Hague lacks the mandate to try him over the alleged rape of child soldiers.

Ntaganda is facing 18 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity. Under counts six and nine, the former Congolese rebel leader is charged with rape and sexual slavery of child soldiers who served in the Union of Congolese Patriots (UPC) by fighters from the same militia. The alleged crimes were committed during 2002 and 2003 when he, and members of the group, … Continue Reading

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Overview of the Prosecution’s Case Against Ntaganda

On February 16, 2017, the last prosecution witness to testify against former Congolese rebel leader Bosco Ntaganda at the International Criminal Court (ICC) concluded giving evidence. Ntaganda’s trial began in September 2015, and in the 17 months since the opening of the prosecution’s case at the court based in The Hague, prosecutors called 71 individuals to give testimony. Those who testified included victims and witnesses to the alleged crimes, insiders in the militia where Ntaganda was a top commander, and expert witnesses.

In presenting its case, the prosecution also relied on forensic evidence gathered from exhumed bodies, communication logs, various documents, videos, and photographs.

The defense case opened three months after the evidence of the last prosecution witness. So far, one defense … Continue Reading

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Formerly Abducted Women Say Ongwen’s Trial is Not Justified

Since the start of Dominic Ongwen’s trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC) last year, different stakeholders have expressed their opinions on various issues regarding the case. Few of these opinions, however, have come from formerly abducted women and girls, despite the fact that they constitute a unique category of victims based on their experiences during the conflict. This article explores opinions from seven women who say they were abducted as girls between 1992 and 2004. All of the women openly said that Ongwen should be forgiven despite their own experiences as victims of sexual and gender based violence.

The Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) is believed to have abducted over 30,000 children (under 18) from 1988 to 2004, including girls, who … Continue Reading

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Defense Lawyer and Witness Disagree on How Long Witness Was With the LRA

A defense lawyer took a prosecution witness to task for the discrepancy between his testimony about when he escaped the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and the date of an amnesty certificate the Ugandan government issued to him.

In his questioning on Tuesday, Thomas Obhof said that elements of Witness P-252’s earlier testimony were consistent with the date on his amnesty certificate, rather than when the witness said he left the LRA. That testimony included the witness seeing a son of Dominic Ongwen, and testifying that he ate mangoes the day he escaped from the LRA.

Ongwen, a former LRA commander, is on trial for his alleged role in attacks that took place between 2003 and 2004 on four camps for people displaced … Continue Reading

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Witness Describes Insults in Odek After Returning From the LRA

A former fighter of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) said he escaped the group because life with the LRA was too difficult, even though he knew he risked being killed if he was caught.

Witness P-252 told the International Criminal Court on Monday that the one year and nine months he spent with the LRA was wasted. The witness testified on Friday that the LRA abducted him during an April 2004 attack on the Odek camp for people displaced by the conflict in northern Uganda.

The testimony is part of the trial of Dominic Ongwen, a former LRA commander who has been charged for his alleged role in attacks on the Odek, Abok, Lukodi, and Pajule IDP camps in northern Uganda. These … Continue Reading

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Witness Describes Himself as Traumatized by His Actions After LRA Abduction

A former member of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) told the International Criminal Court (ICC) he and other abductees from the Odek camp for internally displaced people were each caned up to 100 times because another abductee escaped.

Witness P-252 told the court on Friday they were lucky because the LRA fighters who captured them during an attack on Odek in 2004 told them that if they caught the abductee who had escaped they would all be killed. The witness said the LRA fighters searched for the other abductee but did not find him.

The witness was testifying in the trial of a former LRA commander Dominic Ongwen, who has been charged for his alleged role in the attack on Odek and … Continue Reading

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Ntaganda Says Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni Inspired Him

On the third day of testimony at the International Criminal Court (ICC), Bosco Ntaganda explained the motivations for his involvement with various rebel groups in Congo. He told judges that he was inspired to spearhead the formation of a new fighting group in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo by the example of Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni, who he described as starting a rebellion with 27 men and managing to topple the government.

“Museveni is in power because they went into the bush, just 27 people. In the history of the region there’s no one like the 27 fighters,” stated Ntaganda, while testifying at his trial for war crimes and crimes against humanity. These crimes were allegedly committed while Ntaganda was deputy … Continue Reading

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M. Ntaganda déclare que le président de l’Ouganda Yoweri Museveni l’a inspiré

Pour son troisième jour de témoignage devant la Cour pénale internationale (CPI), Bosco Ntaganda a expliqué les motivations de son engagement dans différents groupes rebelles au Congo. Il a déclaré aux juges qu’il avait été inspiré pour la création d’un nouveau groupe de combat dans l’est de la République démocratique du Congo par l’exemple du président ougandais Yoweri Museveni, qu’il a décrit comme ayant commencé sa rébellion avec 27 hommes pour ensuite réussir à renverser le gouvernement.

« Museveni est au pouvoir car ils sont allés dans la brousse, ils étaient juste 27 personnes. Dans l’histoire de la région, il n’y a personne qui ressemble à ces 27 combattants », a affirmé M. Ntaganda alors qu’il témoignait à son procès pour crimes de guerre et crimes contre … Continue Reading

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Concerns over Bid to Wrap Up Outstanding Investigations at Cambodia’s ECCC

The Open Society Justice Initiative, which has been monitoring events at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia since before the tribunal opened proceedings in 2007, has expressed its concern about an apparent bid by the ECCC’s two investigating judges to put a permanent stay on its their three outstanding cases.

The proposal was made on May 5, 2017, by the two co-investigating judges, Michael Bohlander and You Bunleng, in a highly unconventional “confidential request” to the court. Although filed under seal, the filing was then leaked to the press; subsequently the two judges publicly acknowledged its existence and basic substance.

In the filing, they announced that they are preparing to issue a “permanent stay” of the three cases they are currently responsible for … Continue Reading

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M. Ntaganda : j’ai combattu pour libérer le Congo de la dictature

Pour son deuxième jour de témoignage devant la Cour pénale internationale (CPI), l’ancien chef rebelle congolais Bosco Ntaganda a déclaré aux juges qu’il avait quitté l’armée rwandaise pour rejoindre une insurrection armée en République démocratique du Congo car il souhaitait contribuer à la chute de la dictature dans ce pays.

M. Ntaganda a indiqué que sa motivation pour rejoindre l’Alliance des forces démocratiques pour la libération du Congo (AFDL) s’est trouvée confortée lorsque des citoyens congolais du groupe ethnique Tutsi, auquel il appartient, ont été la cible de meurtres et de déplacement. Il a raconté ses souvenirs d’instructeur militaire au sein des rebelles de l’Armée patriotique du Rwanda (APR), son incorporation au sein de l’armée nationale du Rwanda après que l’APR ait … Continue Reading

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