International Justice Monitor

A project of the Open Society Justice Initiative

Witness Testifies About Attacking the Pajule IDP Camp Where His Father, Sister Lived

A former fighter with the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) told the International Criminal Court (ICC) about being abducted by the LRA and later taking part in an attack on a camp for internally displaced people (IDP) where his father, sister, and other relatives lived.

Witness P-145 testified on Monday in the trial of a former LRA commander, Dominic Ongwen, which resumed after a 45-day break. The last hearing of 2017 in Ongwen’s trial was on November 30. The trial has been going on since December 2016, and Witness P-145 is the 54th prosecution witness to testify.

The witness told the court he took part in an October 2003 attack on the Pajule IDP camp where his father, sister, and other relatives resided. … Continue Reading

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Appeal Hearing Focuses on Bemba’s Mode of Liability

Hearings in the appeal of Jean-Pierre Bemba’s case at the International Criminal Court (ICC) have over the last two days dwelt on the interpretation of what constitutes a military commander’s responsibility for crimes committed by their subordinates. Equally at the center of hearings was the level of knowledge a commander needs to have about subordinates’ crimes in order to bear criminal liability.

The hearing, which started on Tuesday, considered Bemba’s appeal against his conviction, as well as prosecution and defense appeals against the 18-year prison term handed to him in 2016. Bemba, who was commander-in-chief of the Movement for the Liberation of Congo (MLC) rebel group, was found guilty of failing to prevent or punish his troops who committed murder, rape, and … Continue Reading

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At Appeal Hearing, Defense Lawyers Say Bemba Was Denied a Fair Trial

On Tuesday, January 9, lawyers for Jean-Pierre Bemba argued at an appeal hearing at the International Criminal Court (ICC) that the former vice president of the Democratic Republic of Congo was denied a fair trial and his exculpatory evidence was unjustifiably dismissed, leading to his conviction for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

In March 2016, Trial Chamber III convicted Bemba of crimes committed 15 years ago in the Central African Republic (CAR). At the hearing, defense lawyer Peter Haynes faulted trial chamber judges for allowing the prosecution to access privileged communication between Bemba and his lawyers and for receiving evidence from the prosecution without allowing Bemba to offer his side of the story.

Haynes said the prosecution made several ex parte … Continue Reading

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Vues de l’Ituri: Absence de réparation ou d’assistance pour les victimes de Nyankunde

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 vues de la population relayées dans cet article sont celles des personnes interviewées et ne représentent pas forcément les vues de tous les membres de la communauté ni celles des victimes.

Des centaines de victimes au nord-est de la République démocratique du Congo (RDC) se disent délaissées et découragées faute d’’assistance dans la localité de Nyankunde, complètement détruite lors de l’attaque deseptembre 2002 qui a causé la mort de … Continue Reading

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Views from Ituri: Lack of Compensation or Assistance for the Victims of Nyankunde

This article was prepared by our partner Radio Canal Révélation, a radio station based in Bunia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), as part of an interactive radio project on justice and peace which encourages a debate on issues related to justice in the DRC. The views conveyed in this article belong to the people interviewed and do not necessarily represent the views of all the community members, or those of the victims.

Hundreds of victims in the northeast of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) say that they feel abandoned and discouraged because of the lack of assistance in the village of Nyankunde, which was completely destroyed in the attack of … Continue Reading

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Key Issues in Bemba’s Appeal Hearing Against ICC Conviction

Did former Congolese vice president Jean-Pierre Bemba’s Movement for the Liberation of Congo (MLC) militia have an organizational policy to attack civilians? And did the nature and scope of the attacks warrant their classification as crimes against humanity? These are among the key issues that will be addressed during an oral hearing in Bemba’s appeal against conviction for crimes committed 15 years ago. The hearing is scheduled to begin on January 9 and will last up to five days.

In March 2016, Trial Chamber III at the International Criminal Court (ICC) convicted Bemba – the former head of the MLC – of war crimes and crimes against humanity for his role in failing to punish or deter his troops who committed … Continue Reading

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Mass Burial Takes Place of Ixil Victims of the Guatemalan Armed Conflict

As the genocide trial continues to unfold before High Risk Court “B” in Guatemala, a mass burial of 172 Maya Ixil victims of the armed conflict took place in the village of Santa Avelina, San Juan Cotzal, Quiché, in the heart of the Maya Ixil region of Guatemala. Human rights lawyers have confirmed to International Justice Monitor that at least one of the survivors from Santa Avelina is a witness in the ongoing cases against Efraín Ríos Montt and Mauricio Rodríguez Sánchez.

The victims were from Santa Avelina, one of the “model villages” created by the Guatemalan army during the internal armed conflict to control the population it suspected of working with the guerrillas. One survivor, José Ceto, told El Periódico … Continue Reading

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Judge Orders Prosecution Experts to Testify on Ongwen’s Mental Health

The issue of Dominic Ongwen’s mental health while he was a commander of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) has become a matter Trial Chamber IX will have to assess when the judges weigh the evidence presented during Ongwen’s trial.

This follows the order Single Judge of Trial Chamber IX, Bertram Schmitt, issued allowing three prosecution mental health experts to testify at the end of the prosecution case. Judge Schmitt made his November 16 decision after ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda requested Witnesses P-445, P-446, and P-447 be allowed to testify.

Bensouda made her October 24 request after the issue of Ongwen’s mental fitness to stand trial was addressed in December last year, and related matters arose earlier this year. She also made the … Continue Reading

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Lubanga’s Financial Liability for Reparations Set at US$ 10 Million

Today, International Criminal Court (ICC) judges issued a decision setting the amount of Thomas Lubanga’s financial liability for reparations to victims of his crimes at US$ 10 million.

This liability is the highest judges at the court have placed on an individual – 10 times that of former Congolese rebel leader Germain Katanga’s, which was set at US$ 1 million. Malian national Ahmad al-Faqi al-Mahdi, who was convicted for attacking religious and historical monuments, was issued a reparations liability of €2.7 million (US$ 3.18 million).

In a ruling delivered this morning, judges Marc Perrin de Brichambaut (Presiding), Olga Herrera Carbuccia, and Péter Kovács noted that the scope of a convicted person’s liability is proportionate to the harm caused and, among other things, … Continue Reading

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Witness Asks ICC to Help Children Born to LRA Abductees

A woman who had a child while she was an abductee of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) has asked the International Criminal Court (ICC) to assist children born to LRA abductees or made orphan by conflict in northern Uganda.

Witness P-006 told the court the LRA abducted her when she was 16 or 17 years old during the October 10, 2003 attack on the Pajule camp for internally displaced people (IDP). She said she was later made a “wife” to an LRA fighter and had a child while in captivity. Witness P-006 said since escaping the group she has found it difficult to provide for her child.

She testified on November 30 in the trial of Dominic Ongwen, a former LRA commander. … Continue Reading