International Justice Monitor

A project of the Open Society Justice Initiative

The Impact of the Appeals Chamber Decision in Bemba: Impunity for Sexual and Gender-Based Crimes?

Susana SáCouto is the Director of the War Crimes Research Office at the American University Washington College of Law.  The views and opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the Open Society Justice Initiative.  

Two weeks ago, the Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Court (ICC) reversed – in a divided opinion – the conviction of former military commander Jean-Pierre Bemba for the crimes against humanity of rape and murder and the war crimes of rape, murder, and pillaging committed by his troops in the Central African Republic (CAR) between October 2002 and March 2003.  The decision is clearly a disappointment for the victims of the crimes committed by Bemba’s troops, who have been waiting for … Continue Reading

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Community Members in Northern Uganda Elated by Visit of ICC Judges

Community members in northern Uganda were elated by the visit of the three International Criminal Court (ICC) judges hearing the case against Dominic Ongwen. Judges Bertram Schmitt, Péter Kovács, and Raul C. Pangalangan visited northern Uganda from June 3-9, 2018 and interacted with community members in Pajule, Odek, Lukodi, and Abok. These are the locations in which Ongwen is accused of leading attacks on Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps.

Ongwen’s trial started on December 6, 2016, and the prosecution’s presentation of evidence concluded in April this year. The trial is currently on recess until September 18, when the defense will make its opening statements. Ongwen has been charged with 70 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity for his alleged … Continue Reading

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Confirmation of Charges Hearing against Thomas Kwoyelo Postponed Again

The confirmation of charges hearing against Thomas Kwoyelo, alias Latoni, has been postponed yet again to July 23, 2018, purportedly due to a lack of quorum by the defense lawyers. The adjournment occurred on Monday, June 11, at the International Crimes Division (ICD) sitting at the High Court of Uganda in Kampala. The session was presided over by Justice Susan Okalany, who has overseen the pre-trial phase of Kwoyelo’s case since 2016.

During Monday’s hearing, Justice Okalany warned that this would be the last adjournment and stipulated that at the next hearing, the charges would be read and confirmed in the same week. Meanwhile, Kwoyelo, who was present in court, expressed anger at the slow pace of the proceedings, but the … Continue Reading

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Do Victims Feel Adequately Represented in Ongwen’s Trial?

On April 13, 2018, the International Criminal Court (ICC) Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda notified the court that the prosecution had concluded presenting its case against former Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) commander Dominic Ongwen. This paved way for the second phase of the trial, in which the ICC judges permitted two teams of victims’ representatives to call witnesses to testify about the harm they suffered during the conflict in northern Uganda. This article explores community member’s reactions to this development and whether those in northern Uganda feel they have been adequately represented.

Ongwen has been charged with 70 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity for his alleged role in the attack on four camps for internally displaced people (IDP): Lukodi, Abok, … Continue Reading

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Over 2000 Community Members in Lukodi Attend Annual Memorial Prayers

On May 19, 2018, community members commemorated the 14th anniversary of the Lukodi massacre that resulted in the death of 69 people. Over 2,000 community members, including representatives of civil society organizations and local leaders, attended the event.

For the second year running, the memorial prayers were held in the shadow of the ongoing International Criminal Court (ICC) trial of Dominic Ongwen, the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) commander accused of leading the attack on Lukodi. This article explores the perspectives of community members regarding the significance of the prayers amidst Ongwen’s trial and their expectations for justice.

Ongwen is charged with 13 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity in relation to the 2004 attack on Lukodi. He has also been … Continue Reading

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What Community Members in Northern Uganda Think About the Prosecution’s Performance Following the Conclusion of its Case

On April 12, 2018, the last prosecution witness in the trial of Dominic Ongwen presented his testimony, ending the prosecution’s side of the case. This article presents perceptions of community members in northern Uganda on the prosecution’s performance. The perceptions explore whether community members are satisfied with the overall performance of the prosecution, their choice of witnesses, the evidence adduced, and what they liked or did not like about the trial so far.

Ongwen, a former commander of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), has been on trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC) since December 2016. He is charged with 70 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity, including sexual and gender based crimes, committed from 2002 to 2005. Over … Continue Reading

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Nominating Commission Sends Six Finalists for Attorney General to President Morales, as a New Campaign Finance Scandal Engulfs Him

Guatemala is in the process of selecting its next attorney general to serve a four-year term: May 2018-May 2022. Because the process and result could have tremendous implications for grave crimes trials and the rule of law in Guatemala, the International Justice Monitor is providing regular situation reports.

The appointment of Guatemala’s next attorney general is now in the hands of President Jimmy Morales. Last Monday, the Nominating Commission tasked with choosing the shortlist, settled on the final six candidates. Amid concern that the composition of the Commission could make it prone to improper influence, following its vote, the Commission surprised observers by transmitting its results immediately to the president. President Morales has until May 14 to make the appointment.

The development came in the same week … Continue Reading

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Sexual Violence against Men and Boys and its Relevance to the Trial of Dominic Ongwen

On February 2, 2018, the legal representatives for victims (LRV) in the trial of Dominic Ongwen sought leave to present evidence highlighting the harm victims have suffered as a result of crimes committed by the accused. Among the five issues highlighted by the LRV was the infliction of sexual violence on men and boys. The LRV’s submission raises a question regarding the relevancy of sexual violence committed against men and boys by the LRA, particularly given the fact that the LRA was known to target mostly women and girls.

Ongwen is charged with 70 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity. He is alleged to have committed the crimes between July 2002 and December 2005 while he was a commander … Continue Reading

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Dwog Cen Paco (Come Back Home): The Radio Program that Could Have Influenced Dominic Ongwen’s Surrender

At the height of the conflict in northern Uganda, various methods were employed to reach out to Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) fighters, urging them to abandon rebellion and return home. John Oryema Lacambel, or simply Lacambel, is a radio presenter who outdid himself and became popular because of a program called “Come Back Home” or Dwog Cen Paco in Acholi language, through which he played traditional Acholi music and persuaded many LRA fighters to surrender.

Could this program also have influenced Dominic Ongwen, the former LRA former commander who is currently on trial at International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, to abandon rebellion? This article presents excerpts of an interview with Lacambel, who continues to be a presenter at Mega … Continue Reading

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Nominating Commission Narrows Attorney General Applicant Pool to 14, but Critics Question Methods and Results

Guatemala is in the process of selecting its next attorney general to serve a four-year term: May 2018-May 2022. Because the process and result could have tremendous implications for grave crimes trials and the rule of law in Guatemala, the International Justice Monitor is providing regular situation reports.

Last week the Nominating Commission eliminated 16 applicants to be Guatemala’s next attorney general, leaving 14 ahead of its expected vote on Monday, April 16, that will determine the six finalists it submits to President Jimmy Morales. Critics have called into question the Commission’s objectivity based on how it conducted interviews with the candidates, designed its “gradation table” to assess candidates, and how it applied those criteria to decide on the advancement or elimination of candidates.

Interviews

The Commission interviewed … Continue Reading

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