International Justice Monitor

A project of the Open Society Justice Initiative

Witness Says LRA Leader Used Threat of ICC Prosecution to Scare Commanders From Leaving Him

A witness told the International Criminal Court (ICC) that Joseph Kony, the leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), scared his commanders from defecting by using the threat of prosecution at the ICC.

Witness P-440 said Kony banned everyone in the LRA from listening to Mega FM because the radio station broadcast appeals to LRA members to leave the group in exchange for amnesty from the Ugandan government. The witness said this on February 3 in response to questions from a lawyer representing Dominic Ongwen, who is on trial at the ICC.

Ongwen, who was abducted as a teenager by the LRA, is facing 70 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity for multiple crimes he is alleged to have committed … Continue Reading

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Former LRA Radio Operator Describes Kony as Unpredictable

On February 2, it was revealed that for a limited period of time, Dominic Ongwen, who is on trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC), was in regular touch with a Ugandan general who is Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni’s half-brother. The contact was approved by the leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), Joseph Kony.

It emerged during the hearing at the ICC that Kony thought the communication between Ongwen and Lt. Gen. Salim Saleh would be helpful to the LRA. This information was in a summary of an intercept of LRA radio communication that defense lawyer Chief Charles Taku read out in court on Thursday. The radio conversation was intercepted by Uganda’s Internal Security Organization (ISO).

Taku read the transcript out to Witness … Continue Reading

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Relatives in Coorom Say Ongwen Deserves Forgiveness

Approximately 40 kilometers north of Gulu town lies the little village of Coorom, located in Lamogi Sub-County, Amuru District, Uganda. Coorom is the home of Dominic Ongwen, the former commander of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) who is currently on trial for war crimes and crimes against humanity before the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, the Netherlands.

Prior to the capture Ongwen in 2015, Coorom was just another quiet and tranquil village in post-conflict northern Uganda, struggling to re-establish itself after many years of fighting. However, after the capture of Ongwen, Coorom has risen to prominence, attracting researchers and transitional justice practitioners. In addition, since the trial of Ongwen started in December 2016, the ICC field office in Uganda … Continue Reading

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Witness Tells Court LRA Leader Often Ordered and Then Stopped the Abduction of Civilians

A witness told the International Criminal Court (ICC) that the leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), Joseph Kony, often directed his commanders to abduct civilians and then he would order they stop the abductions.

Witness P-440 said on February 1 that these orders were among the general orders Kony gave to his commanders over the radio. The witness became the second former LRA radio operator to testify in the trial of Dominic Ongwen. Witness P-440 began his testimony on Wednesday afternoon.

Ongwen is on trial on 70 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity. He is charged for his alleged role in attacks that took place between 2003 and 2004 on the Pajule, Odek, Abok, and Lukodi camps for people … Continue Reading

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Defense Lawyer Challenges Witness on His Knowledge of LRA Communications

A member of Uganda’s Internal Security Organization (ISO) told the International Criminal Court (ICC) it was not possible to impersonate a commander of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) over the radio.

Witness P-059 said on January 31 that no one in the LRA would dare impersonate a commander. He was speaking in response to a question from Dominic Ongwen’s lead defense lawyer, Krispus Ayena Odongo.

Ongwen is facing 70 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity including his alleged role in attacks on Pajule, Odek, Abok, and Lukodi camps for people displaced by the conflict in northern Uganda. The attacks took place between 2003 and 2004 when, the prosecution says, Ongwen was a battalion commander and then a brigade commander in … Continue Reading

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Witness Authenticates Recordings of Intercepts of LRA Communications

A witness in the International Criminal Court (ICC) trial of Dominic Ongwen authenticated recordings he made of radio communications of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA).

Trial lawyer Julien Elderfield spent Monday, January 30, playing selected parts of audio recordings of LRA radio communications, asking Witness P-059 to summarize what he heard and then confirm whether a transcript given to him reflected what he heard.

The transcripts in question were produced by the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) after receiving the audio recordings from the Ugandan government. Witness P-059 had annotated the transcripts during previous interviews with OTP staff. His annotations were to correct mistakes or fill in the gaps where the audio recordings were unclear.

Witness P-059 is a serving member of Uganda’s … Continue Reading

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Witness Says Uganda Has Eavesdropped on LRA Communications for 17 years

A serving member of a Ugandan intelligence agency told the International Criminal Court (ICC) that the Ugandan government has been eavesdropping on radio communications of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) for almost 17 years.

Witness P-059, who works as an interceptor for the Internal Security Organization (ISO), said on January 27 that since 2011 there has been minimal radio communication between LRA leaders. The witness said he had been intercepting LRA radio communications since 2000 and has been based in the northern Uganda town of Gulu.

The witness said the purpose of the intercept program, “first of all, is to let the government know the plan of the rebels, that is the LRA rebels, so that the government can find solutions or … Continue Reading

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Ongwen Defense Challenges Credibility of Witness

The defense of Dominic Ongwen challenged the credibility of a witness testifying at the International Criminal Court (ICC) when they questioned whether his testimony was in exchange for not being prosecuted.

Krispus Ayena Odongo asked Witness P-016 on January 26 whether there was such a deal during one of the few times when the lawyer and witness spoke in open court. The majority of the day’s hearing took place in private session because most of Odongo’s questions touched on areas that could reveal the identity of the witness. He is testifying under in-court protective measures to retain his anonymity.

Witness P-016, a former radio operator with the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), is testifying in the trial of Ongwen, who the prosecution say … Continue Reading

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Witness Tells Court Ongwen Was Once Punished for Disobeying LRA Leader

A witness told the International Criminal Court (ICC) that Dominic Ongwen, who is on trial for several war crimes and crimes against humanity, was once caned 200 times for defying an order given by the leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), Joseph Kony.

On January 25, Witness P-016 narrated what happened to Ongwen as an example of the punishment a member of the LRA received if they disobeyed an order given by Kony. The witness was answering questions from Ongwen’s lead defense lawyer, Krispus Ayena Odongo, during cross-examination.

Ongwen is charged with 70 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity for his alleged role in attacks on the Pajule, Odek, Abok, and Lukodi camps for people displaced by the conflict in … Continue Reading

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Issue of Whether Ongwen Planned to Escape LRA Comes Up Again in Trial

The question of whether Dominic Ongwen, who is on trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC), planned to escape from the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) came up again on Tuesday.

The matter came up as Witness P-016 continued listening to excerpts of audio recordings of LRA radio communications to match with transcripts he was given to read by the prosecution.

Witness P-016 is a former radio operator for the LRA. The recordings are intercepts Ugandan military and intelligence officers made of LRA radio communications. The transcripts were prepared by the prosecution. On Monday, Witness P-016 told the court he had reviewed the transcripts several times over the years since he escaped from the Ugandan rebel group, which was 12 years ago.

Ongwen is … Continue Reading

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