International Justice Monitor

A project of the Open Society Justice Initiative

The Greco-Roman Wrestler Who Defeated Ríos Montt

The following article profiles Édgar Pérez, the director of the Law Firm for Human Rights (Bufete Jurídico de Derechos Humanos), one of the main organizations representing victims in Guatemala’s grave crimes cases. The article and photos come from the news organization Plaza Pública and are being republished on International Justice Monitor with permission. The original Spanish version was written by Emiliano Castro Sáenz has been translated by Evelyn Recinos Contreras.

Pérez, in his office.

Édgar Fernando Pérez Archila has stayed out of the spotlight, even though he was the first to bring military officers responsible for committing grave crimes during Guatemala´s war to justice. He confronted Ríos Montt in the Genocide case representing the Ixil indigenous population, as well as the … Continue Reading

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Victims of Sexual and Gender Based Violence Crimes Need Special Reparations

As the trial of Dominic Ongwen continues before the International Criminal Court (ICC), significant questions remain about how reparations for victims of sexual and gender based (SGBV) crimes will be approached.

Ongwen was initially charged with seven war crimes and crimes against humanity, none of which were SGBV related, but after surrendering to rebels in the Central African Republic in 2015, ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda announced the introduction of 63 additional charges. Among the additional charges, Ongwen is facing 19 counts of SGBV crimes, including rape and forced marriage. This article focuses on reparations for survivors of LRA-perpetrated SGBV crimes.

The LRA is known to have abducted over 30,000 children below the age of 18 from 1988 to 2004, including young girls, … 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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Why Victims ‘Feel Abandoned’ by the Ugandan Government

As the trial of Dominic Ongwen continues at the International Criminal Court (ICC), questions on how victims and conflict-affected communities stand to benefit from the whole process continues to generate discussion. A key issue often raised by victims is the lack of support from the Ugandan government to victims of the conflict, which pitted the government itself against the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA).

This is an issue that has left many feeling that the government is leaving the ICC and other stakeholders to shoulder the entire burden. With the ICC promising to effect reparations for victims in the event of a conviction, it can be argued that Ongwen’s trial has reopened the debate on reparations and assistance for victims in northern … Continue Reading

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Low Turnout at the Lukodi Memorial Prayers as Victims Express Dissatisfaction with the Slow Pace of Ongwen’s Trial

Lukodi village is located approximately 17 kilometers from Gulu town. It was the scene of a horrendous massacre by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in May 2004, leading to the death of over 69 civilians. Dominic Ongwen is currently on trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in part due to what happened here.

Ongwen’s trial before the ICC started on December 6, 2016. He is charged with 70 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed in attacks on camps for people displaced by the conflict in northern Uganda. The attacks took place between 2003 and 2004 in the camps of Pajule, Odek, Abok, and Lukodi. Ongwen has also been charged with sexual and gender-based crimes, including the crime … Continue Reading

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Simone Gbagbo Acquitted by the Abidjan Assize Court: Between the Independence of the Judiciary and a Political Twist to Save the Day

Simone Gbagbo, wife of former Ivorian Head of State Laurent Gbagbo, has been on trial before Ivorian court for the past ten months for crimes against humanity after being sentenced to 20 years’ imprisonment in 2016 for undermining state security during the 2010-2011 post-election crisis in Côte d’Ivoire. Since February 2012, she has also been subject to an International Criminal Court (ICC) arrest warrant for four counts of crimes against humanity for acts allegedly committed during the post-election period. Côte d’Ivoire refused to transfer her because it considered that Ms. Gbagbo could be tried at the local level for the same charges. At the same time, her husband Laurent Gbagbo and their political party’s youth leader, Charles Blé Goudé, have … Continue Reading

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Acquittement de Simone Gbagbo par la Cour d’Assises d’Abidjan: Entre Independance de la Justice et Pirouette Politique our Sauver les Meubles

Simone Gbagbo, épouse de l’ancien chef d’Etat Ivoirien Laurent Gbagbo était poursuivie par la justice ivoirienne depuis dix mois pour des crimes contre l’humanité, après sa condamnation à 20 ans d’emprisonnement en 2016 pour des faits d’atteinte à la sûreté de l’Etat durant la crise post-électorale de 2010-2011 en Côte d’Ivoire. Depuis février 2012, elle fait l’objet d’un mandat d’arrêt de la Cour pénale internationale (CPI) pour quatre chefs de crimes contre l’humanité pour des faits qui auraient été commis lors de la période post-électorale. La Côte d’Ivoire a refusé de la transférer car elle considérait que Mme Gbagbo pouvait être jugée au niveau local pour les mêmes faits. Dans le même temps, son époux Laurent Gbagbo et le leader … Continue Reading

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Human Rights Trials in Guatemala: “Two Steps Forward, One Step Back”

Since the Efrain Rios Montt trial took place in 2013, there has been a steady stream of investigations and prosecutions for grave crimes committed during Guatemala’s civil war. Despite tremendous opposition from former military officials and their supporters, prosecutors and judges continue to take on these challenging cases in an effort to fight impunity in the country, which until recently has been the norm.

In a podcast produced by the Washington Office in Latin America (WOLA), George Mason University professor Jo-Marie Burt discusses the history of grave crimes cases in Guatemala, including the cases against Rios Montt, and the role that the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) has had in strengthening the justice system charged with prosecuting these cases. Ongoing … Continue Reading

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Just or Unjust? Mixed Reactions on Whether Ongwen Should be on Trial

As the trial of former Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) commander Dominic Ongwen continues before the International Criminal Court (ICC), people in northern Uganda are still divided on whether or not his trial is justified. In response to the question of whether they felt Ongwen’s trial was fair or not, Civil Society Organization (CSO) representatives responded in different ways, citing different reasons for their answers.

Ongwen is charged with 70 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed in attacks on camps for people displaced by the conflict in northern Uganda. The attacks took place between 2003 and 2004 in the camps of Pajule, Odek, Abok, and Lukodi. Ongwen has also been charged with sexual and gender-based crimes, including the … Continue Reading

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Can International Justice Survive in an Age of Renewed Nationalist Fervor?

In an opinion piece published on April 10, 2017, by World Politics Review, James A. Goldston, executive director of the Open Society Justice Initiative, argues that the international justice has become irrevocably embedded in global politics.  He writes:

“International justice has taken a reputational nosedive since the late 1990s, when the creation of the International Criminal Court signaled a new age of global accountability. Some of this has involved predictable pushback from political leaders who would rather not be called to account. But other complaints resonate more widely.

Some say that the ICC’s focus on Africa and its inability to address atrocities from North Korea to Syria reflect the double standards of global power, not the impartiality of law. The worldwide resurgence … Continue Reading

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