International Justice Monitor

A project of the Open Society Justice Initiative

CICIG, Leader of Anti-Corruption Efforts in Guatemala, Under Siege (Part I)

The International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG), a UN-sponsored body created in 2007 to help Guatemala combat crime and impunity, and Iván Velásquez, its chief since 2013, have found themselves in the crosshairs in recent weeks. The UN-sponsored entity has received wide acclaim for the anti-corruption investigations it conducted alongside the Attorney General’s Office, which, in 2015, led to the arrest of former president Otto Pérez Molina, his vice-president, Roxana Baldetti, and dozens of government ministers for widespread government fraud. However, it appears that for some, CICIG got too close for comfort.

President Jimmy Morales—who was elected in the wake of the Pérez Molina government’s downfall in 2015 and ran with the slogan “neither corrupt nor a thief”—catalyzed a campaign … Continue Reading

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Thinking Ahead: Community Expectations After the End of the Ongwen Trial

In the course of outreach conducted in communities affected by the conflict with the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in northern Uganda, community members frequently raised the question of what would happen if the International Criminal Court (ICC) does not find Dominic Ongwen guilty. This article explores the opinions of community members regarding Ongwen’s future in the aftermath of the trial, and particularly in the event that he is acquitted. The community expressed their opinions on where they felt Ongwen should live, the relationship between him and community members, and how they felt reconciliation should be promoted.

Dominic Ongwen, a former commander of the LRA is currently on trial before the ICC in The Hague. He is charged with 70 counts of … Continue Reading

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How the Trial of Dominic Ongwen Has Shaped Attitudes Toward International Criminal Justice in Uganda

Uganda is currently the focus of two international criminal trials: that of Thomas Kwoyelo before the International Crimes Division (ICD) in Uganda, and Dominic Ongwen before the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Netherlands. Both Kwoyelo and Ongwen are charged with committing war crimes and crimes against humanity in northern Uganda while in the service of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). This has inevitably stirred debate in Uganda regarding which of the two courts is more effective, and shaped attitudes towards international criminal justice in the country.

Ongwen is currently standing trial before the ICC in The Hague. His trial began on December 6, 2016. He is charged with 70 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed in … Continue Reading

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Ugandan Civil Society Questions an ICC Prosecution Delegation on the Ongwen Trial

As the trial of Dominic Ongwen before the International Criminal Court (ICC) went into summer recess, representatives of the Court’s Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) responded to questions put by civil society in northern Uganda.

On August 1, 2017, a delegation from the OTP met with over 40 representatives of civil society organizations (CSOs) in Gulu, northern Uganda. The objective was to provide updates on developments since the commencement of the Ongwen trial on December 6, 2016 and respond to questions from the community. The meeting was public and this article reflects on the questions raised by the CSO representatives and how the OTP officials responded to them.

Ongwen is charged with 70 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly … Continue Reading

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Passing Judgment on an ICC Thriller: a Podcast Review

Scott Turow is one of America’s best-known authors of legal thrillers, set—until now—in fictional Kindle County, located somewhere in the Midwest. But in his latest book, Testimony, Turow travels to The Hague and to Bosnia, to tell the story of a middle-aged American lawyer who takes up a chance to serve as a prosecutor at the International Criminal Court.

But how does his fictional account of the workings of the ICC, seen through the eyes of hero Bill ten Boom, stack up with the real thing?

A special edition of the Open Society Foundations’ monthly Talking Justice podcast, presents a discussion of Testimony, between James A. Goldston, executive director of the Open Society Justice Initiative, and Binaifer Nowrojee, regional dierctor of the … Continue Reading

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How the Ongwen Trial Is Influencing Discussions on Accountability in Northern Uganda

In northern Uganda, intense debate surrounds the question of whether the government of Uganda or the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) bears greater responsibility for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed during the two-decade conflict. The trial of Dominic Ongwen, a former commander of the LRA, currently underway at the International Criminal Court (ICC), has become a focal point for discussions on accountability. This article reflects some of the views heard in those discussions, based on questions put to civil society organization (CSO) representatives and community members.

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 … Continue Reading


Reactions from People in an Ituri Village to Bosco Ntaganda’s Trial

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.

The inhabitants of Lopa, where Bosco Ntaganda made his headquarters in the Ituri province of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), are calling for ICC investigations of and reparations for victims in the area. The crimes allegedly committed in Lopa are not the focus of the … Continue Reading

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To Detain or Not to Detain: A Human Rights Approach to Custody in Criminal Law

Earlier this week, the International Criminal Court (ICC) Appeals Chamber unanimously reversed a March 10, 2017 decision of Trial Chamber I on the detention of former Ivory Coast president Laurent Gbagbo. Although Gbagbo will remain in prison at the ICC detention facility, the Appeals Chamber has tasked the trial chamber with conducting a new review to decide if the former head of state’s continued detention is warranted.

Gbagbo, 72, is charged with crimes against humanity following post-election violence in 2010 and 2011, which allegedly led to the killing of around 3,000 people. He has been on trial at the ICC, alongside his former youth minister Charles Blé Goudé, since January 28, 2016.

Previously, Gbagbo’s defense had requested his urgent release in 2014 in … Continue Reading

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Réactions de la population d’une localité de l’Ituri sur le procès de Bosco Ntaganda

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.

Les habitants de Lopa, quartier général de Bosco Ntaganda, dans la province de l’Ituri en République démocratique du Congo (RDC), réclament les enquêtes de la CPI et les réparations aux victimes des suites de sa présence dans leur … Continue Reading

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International Justice Day in Uganda Focuses on Ongwen’s Trial as Community Members Quiz ICC Officials at a Town Hall Meeting

July 17 is globally recognized as the “World Day for International Justice,” also referred to as the “Day of International Criminal Justice” or “International Justice Day.” The day is commemorated around the world as part of an effort to recognize the emerging system of international criminal justice and to mark the anniversary of the adoption of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Since the ICC intervened in the Ugandan situation 13 years ago, International Justice Day in Uganda has revolved around activities of the court.  With the trial of Dominic Ongwen currently ongoing before the ICC, it is not surprising that this year’s commemoration focused the Ongwen case.

Ongwen is charged with 70 counts of war crimes and crimes … Continue Reading

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