Military Lawyer Says Uganda Gave ICC Evidence on 15 LRA Commanders

One of Uganda’s top military lawyers told the International Criminal Court (ICC) that the evidence Uganda’s intelligence agencies gave to the court went beyond information on just Dominic Ongwen and involved about 15 commanders of the Lord’s Resistance Army.

Lieutenant Colonel Timothy Nabaasa Kanyogonya told the court on Monday that he acted as a liaison between the Ugandan military, civilian intelligence agencies, and the ICC. He said he did this as the director of legal services at the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence, a position he said he has held since May 2004, but with some interruptions.

Kanyogonya was testifying in the trial of Ongwen, who has been charged with 70 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity for his alleged role in attacks on camps for internally displaced people. The attacks happened in northern Uganda and took place between 2003 and 2004. Ongwen has pleaded not guilty to all the charges against him.

On Monday, Kanyogonya, who testified via video link, explained the structures the Ugandan government put in place to receive and act on requests from the ICC. He also explained how he determined what evidence to pass on to the ICC.

He said most ICC requests were sent through the Ministry of Justice and the Attorney General. He said in some cases those requests were sent to him directly.

Kanyogonya told the court there was a joint intelligence committee made up of representatives of the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence, the Internal Security Organisation (ISO), the External Security Organisation (ESO), and the Ugandan police. He said it is through this committee that the different agencies shared intelligence and prepared reports for the National Security Committee chaired by the minister of interior. Kanyogonya said the joint intelligence committee had a subcommittee that investigated what happened in northern Uganda during the conflict with the LRA.

“My main role was coordinating the collection of evidence, especially the intercepts that the ISO had collected [to pass on to the ICC],” Kanyogonya told the court.

The Ugandan government had a program to intercept LRA radio communications that ran for close to two decades. The ISO, which Kanyogonya described as a civilian intelligence agency responsible for gathering intelligence inside the country, intercepted some of those communications, as did the Ugandan military. Witness P-059 testified in January about the ISO interception program that began in 2000. In February, Witness P-003 testified about the Ugandan military’s interception program.

Black asked Kanyogonya how he determined what evidence was relevant for the ICC requests.

“Your Honours, the relevance is about, first of all, the jurisdiction of the ICC. If there were intercepts that preceded 2002, in terms of the ICC jurisdiction those were irrelevant as far as I was concerned. Or if they did not have anything to do with the RFA [request for assistance],” answered Kanyogonya.

Uganda ratified the ICC’s founding law, the Rome Statute, in 2002. Based on Uganda’s 2004 referral of the situation in Uganda to the ICC, the court only has jurisdiction over Rome Statute crimes committed in Uganda after July 1, 2002.

Black concluded questioning Kanyogonya in about 25 minutes because he asked him only a few questions about his background and the evidence about which he was testifying. Black also asked Kanyogonya to identify two statements he made to prosecution investigators in 2005 and 2015 and to confirm his signature on them. He also asked Kanyogonya whether he had any objection to those statements and their annexures being introduced as evidence in the trial of Ongwen. Kanyogonya said he had no objection.

Kanyogonya’s examination in chief was done this way because he was testifying under Rule 68 (3) of the ICC Rules of Procedure and Evidence. Under this provision of Rule 68, a witness’s previously recorded statement may be entered into evidence if the witness is in court and agrees to the statement being submitted as evidence. The provision also requires the witness be in court to answer any questions from lawyers and judges.

Trial Chamber IX made the decision to admit Kanyogonya’s statement as evidence on November 18. This decision concerns 38 witnesses including Kanyogonya, whose witness number is P-038.

Charles Taku, Ongwen’s cocounsel, asked Kanyogonya about details of some of the evidence he collected to pass on to the ICC and whether that evidence was gathered specifically for the ICC.

Taku asked Kanyogonya whether the evidence he considered relevant to pass to the ICC was only evidence that implicated Ongwen.

“Your Honours, first of all, we did not look specifically for information about Dominic Ongwen,” replied Kanyogonya. He added that the request from the ICC concerned five individuals for whom the court had issued an arrest warrant.

Other than Ongwen, the other individuals in that original 2005 arrest warrant were LRA leader Joseph Kony, LRA deputy Vincent Otti, Raska Lukwiya, and Okot Odiambo. The ICC has since declared Lukwiya and Odiambo dead and terminated their cases.

“Actually, we collected [evidence on] more than the five who were indicted. We collected [evidence on] about 15 commanders,” said Kanyogonya.

Taku asked whether the evidence Ugandan intelligence agencies gathered on the LRA was being collected only for the ICC.

“They weren’t meant for ICC. The intercepts primarily were for us to prosecute the war with our eyes and ears open,” replied Kanyogonya.