International Justice Monitor

A project of the Open Society Justice Initiative

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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Defense Lawyer Doubts Witness Worked Closely with Ongwen

A defense lawyer challenged a former fighter of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) on some of the details of his testimony about the LRA’s attack on the Odek camp for people displaced by the conflict in northern Uganda. That attack took place in 2003.

Abigail Bridgman on Monday also questioned whether Witness P-054 was present during an LRA attack on the Abok camp for internally displaced people (IDP).

Witness P-054 had testified on Friday that he took part in the attacks on the Abok and Odek IDP camps. At the time, the witness was as a member of the LRA’s Sinia Brigade, and he said the commander of that brigade was Dominic Ongwen.

Bridgman is one of the lawyers representing Ongwen, who is on trial … Continue Reading

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Witness Describes Being Under Heavy Fire During Attack on Abok IDP Camp

A former fighter with the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) told the International Criminal Court (ICC) about his role in attacks on the Abok and Odek camps for internally displaced people (IDP) that occurred 13 years ago.

Witness P-054 told the court on Friday he took part in the attacks as a member of the LRA’s Sinia Brigade. He said Dominic Ongwen was the brigade commander of Sinia at the time of the attacks.

Ongwen is on trial for his alleged role in the attacks on the Abok and Odek IDP camps in 2004. He has also been charged for his alleged role in attacks on two other IDP camps, namely Lukodi and Pajule. He faces a total of 70 counts of war … Continue Reading

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Former LRA Intelligence Officer Says Ongwen Led Group that Abducted Civilians in Pajule

A former intelligence officer of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) told the International Criminal Court (ICC) Dominic Ongwen led one of the groups that attacked the Pajule camp for internally displaced people (IDP) 13 years ago.

Witness P-144 told the court that the LRA attacked the Pajule IDP camp in October 2003 using three different groups of fighters. He said he was in the group that attacked the barracks, and Ongwen led the group that went to abduct civilians and loot the Pajule trading center. Witness P-144 said a senior commander, Raska Lukwiya, had operational command over the three groups.

The witness testified on Tuesday and Wednesday in the trial of Ongwen, a former LRA commander. Ongwen has been charged with 10 … Continue Reading

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Childhood Friend of LRA Leader Testifies About Attack on Odek

A childhood friend of Joseph Kony, the leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), told the International Criminal Court (ICC) how Kony’s character changed once he became involved in the rebellion in northern Uganda in the mid-1980s.

Lakoch Par Oyoo told the court on Monday that Kony was a happy person before he started fighting the Ugandan government. Oyoo said Kony became rude and ferocious after spending some time in the northern Uganda rebellion.

Oyoo was testifying in the trial of a former LRA commander, Dominic Ongwen, which resumed after a 19-day break. Ongwen has been charged for his alleged role in attacks on four camps for people displaced by the conflict in northern Uganda. The camps he is alleged to have … 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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Defense Lawyer and Witness Disagree on How Long Witness Was With the LRA

A defense lawyer took a prosecution witness to task for the discrepancy between his testimony about when he escaped the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and the date of an amnesty certificate the Ugandan government issued to him.

In his questioning on Tuesday, Thomas Obhof said that elements of Witness P-252’s earlier testimony were consistent with the date on his amnesty certificate, rather than when the witness said he left the LRA. That testimony included the witness seeing a son of Dominic Ongwen, and testifying that he ate mangoes the day he escaped from the LRA.

Ongwen, a former LRA commander, is on trial for his alleged role in attacks that took place between 2003 and 2004 on four camps for people displaced … Continue Reading

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Witness Describes Insults in Odek After Returning From the LRA

A former fighter of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) said he escaped the group because life with the LRA was too difficult, even though he knew he risked being killed if he was caught.

Witness P-252 told the International Criminal Court on Monday that the one year and nine months he spent with the LRA was wasted. The witness testified on Friday that the LRA abducted him during an April 2004 attack on the Odek camp for people displaced by the conflict in northern Uganda.

The testimony is part of the trial of Dominic Ongwen, a former LRA commander who has been charged for his alleged role in attacks on the Odek, Abok, Lukodi, and Pajule IDP camps in northern Uganda. These … Continue Reading

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Witness Describes Himself as Traumatized by His Actions After LRA Abduction

A former member of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) told the International Criminal Court (ICC) he and other abductees from the Odek camp for internally displaced people were each caned up to 100 times because another abductee escaped.

Witness P-252 told the court on Friday they were lucky because the LRA fighters who captured them during an attack on Odek in 2004 told them that if they caught the abductee who had escaped they would all be killed. The witness said the LRA fighters searched for the other abductee but did not find him.

The witness was testifying in the trial of a former LRA commander Dominic Ongwen, who has been charged for his alleged role in the attack on Odek and … Continue Reading

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