International Justice Monitor

A project of the Open Society Justice Initiative

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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Thrice Abducted: Perspectives from a Former LRA Signaler who Served with Ongwen

He was abducted three times and spent over 10 years in the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), where he served as a force signaler. After he finally escaped, he was granted amnesty by the Ugandan government. This article explores the perspectives of this former long-serving LRA fighter regarding the trial of Dominic Ongwen, whom he met and served with while in captivity. In this article, we shall refer to him as “Omara” to protect his identity. Omara expressed his opinion about the trial during an interview conducted with him in northern Uganda in March 2018.

Ongwen, a former LRA commander is currently on trial at International Criminal Court (ICC), where he is charged with over 70 counts of war crimes and crimes … Continue Reading

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The Legacy of Ríos Montt, Guatemala’s Most Notorious War Criminal

Guatemala’s most notorious dictator, retired army general José Efraín Ríos Montt, died last Sunday of a heart attack at the age of 91. Ríos Montt came to power in a military coup d’état on March 23, 1982. He was deposed just 17 months later, on August 7, 1983, in a military coup orchestrated by his Minister of Defense, Oscar Humberto Mejía Víctores.

Guatemala experienced extremely high levels of violence during its 36-year internal armed conflict. An estimated 200,000 people were killed, 45,000 disappeared, and tens of thousands forcibly displaced or exiled, along with countless victims of torture and sexual violence. According to the UN-sponsored Historical Clarification Commission (CEH), Ríos Montt continued and amplified the scorched-earth policy designed and implemented by his … Continue Reading

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Nominating Commission Considers Objections to Attorney General Candidates Ahead of Public Interviews

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.

Thirty Candidates Remain Viable

Thirty candidates to become Guatemala’s next attorney general remain in the running. After the Nominating Commission narrowed the field of applicants from 39 to 25 in late February, it reinstated four candidates following consideration of their appeals against exclusion. A fifth candidate, Mynor Francisco Hernández Castillo, successfully appealed to the Constitutional Court to be reinstated. (A list all 30 remaining applicants is at the end of this post.)

Controversial Objections

From March 13-15, the … Continue Reading

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President of Attorney General Nominating Commission Mentioned in Alleged Bribery Scheme to Control Nominating Commissions in 2014

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 Attorney General’s Office and International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) announced on February 27 that it had issued arrest warrants in relation to an alleged scheme to rig the 2014 Nominating Commission for the selection of judges to the Supreme Court of Justice and civil and criminal appellate courts. Although he is not among the individuals charged, Supreme Court of Justice (SCJ) President José Antonio Pineda Barales met the accused mastermind of the … Continue Reading

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How the ICC Field Office in Uganda is Using SMS to Update Communities about the Ongwen Trial

In northern Uganda, many people have expressed interest in following the trial of former Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) commander Dominic Ongwen. However, most people are unable to do so on a regular basis due to lack of convenient channels. For this reason, the International Criminal Court (ICC) field office in Uganda began disseminating information through short message services (SMS) or text messages. This article explores perspectives of select community members in Lukodi village regarding the effectiveness of the initiative.

Ongwen, a former commander of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) has been on trial since December 6, 2016. He is charged with 70 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed in the former Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps of … Continue Reading

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ICC Trust Fund for Victims’ Delegation Visits Gulu; Pledges More Support for Rehabilitation Programs

Last month, the government of Ireland in partnership with the Trust Fund for Victims (TFV) at the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) led a delegation of States Parties representatives to northern Uganda and interacted with conflict survivors and conflict affected communities. This is significant because as Dominic Ongwen’s trial continues at the ICC, a key factor that continues to generate debate is the mental, physical, and psychosocial rehabilitation of conflict survivors.

According to a press release [pdf] by the TFV, the visit was initiated by the government of Ireland and was aimed at monitoring and “reviewing implementation of TFV projects in northern Uganda, meeting with victims and survivors and affected communities who have been receiving support from the TFV.” The visit was … Continue Reading

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Nominating Commission for Attorney General Narrows Applicant List, Withstands Challenges to Its Work

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.

Field Narrowed

The Nominating Commission (Comisión de Postulación) to recommend finalists for the post of Guatemalan attorney general has rejected 14 of the 39 applications it received, leaving 25 applications remaining. The Commission met last Monday through Wednesday to make its determinations. It rejected the applicants for failing to meet requirements established by law and the call for applications. The Commission threw out applications for such reasons as failure to submit required documentation, failing to have … Continue Reading

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Reactions from the Population of Bunia to the Possibility of Holding Closing Statements in Situ

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.

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Most inhabitants of Bunia are in favor of holding closing statements in their city in the case against Bosco Ntaganda, but some are still skeptical because of ongoing bloody conflicts.

Almost 60 people out of 100 included in the project among the population of affected communities welcome the … Continue Reading

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