International Justice Monitor

A project of the Open Society Justice Initiative

Witness Describes Poor Living Conditions in the LRA and IDP Camps

A prosecution witness told the International Criminal Court (ICC) that most fighters of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) slept in the open on the ground because the group had a limited number of tents and beds, which were used by the commanders.

Witness P-379 said on Tuesday LRA commanders were also given priority when it came to food. He said if food was scarce then the choice bits, such as beans or chicken or goat meat, were served to the commanders.

The witness testified about his experience in the Oka battalion of the LRA, which he said was led by Dominic Ongwen at the time he was a member. Ongwen is on trial at the ICC on 70 counts of war crimes … Continue Reading

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Combative Witness Raises Questions about Witness Preparation at the ICC

Earlier this month a prosecution witness testifying in the trial of Dominic Ongwen at the International Criminal Court (ICC) made headlines when he was cautioned by the judges for his behavior on the witness stand. As a member of the Uganda People’s Defense Force (UPDF), Witness P-003 intercepted radio communications between members of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) during the conflict in northern Uganda, and he was called to The Hague testify about those communications.

However, upon cross-examination Ongwen’s lead defense lawyer, Krispus Ayena Odongo, in an effort to impugn the witness’s credibility, presented a letter in court that alleged the witness acted inappropriately during intercept operations and drew a gun on an intelligence officer working from the same compound. The … Continue Reading

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Witness Describes Being Attacked by His Former LRA Battalion While in Pajule IDP Camp

A former fighter with the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) told the International Criminal Court (ICC) he was the victim of an LRA attack on a camp for internally displaced people (IDP) where he was living just months after escaping from the group.

Witness P-379 narrated to the court on Monday how he and other internally displaced people were attacked in October 2003 by the Oka battalion of the LRA, the same battalion he had been a member of and escaped from in August 2003.

The attack on Pajule the witness testified about forms part of the charges against Dominic Ongwen at the ICC. Ongwen has also been charged for his alleged role in attacks on three other IDP camps: Odek, Abok, and … Continue Reading

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Witness Testifies About Attacks Ongwen Led

A former Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) fighter told the International Criminal Court (ICC) about his abduction by the battalion led by Dominic Ongwen, who is on trial at the court. He also discussed attacks on a barrack and town center that were directed by Ongwen.

Witness P-379, who began testifying on Friday, is doing so under in-court protective measures. One measure taken is that his face is distorted in broadcasts to the public either on the screens in the public gallery or the court’s live stream of the proceedings. He is also being identified by pseudonym and any information that may identify him during his testimony is given in private session.

Presiding Judge Bertram Schmitt said that Witness P-379 has also been granted … Continue Reading

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Doubts Casts on What Witness Knows About Ongwen or Attacks on IDP Camps

The lead lawyer for Dominic Ongwen, who is on trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC), has doubted whether a prosecution witness served as an escort to Ongwen during his time in the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA).

Krispus Ayena Odongo expressed this and other doubts on Thursday about key parts of the testimony of Witness P-330. Odongo challenged the witness about attacks he said he took part in as a member of a LRA brigade that Ongwen was a commander in. Odongo also questioned whether Witness P-330 helped Ongwen when he was injured and took months to recuperate.

Ongwen has been charged with 70 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity. Among the charges Ongwen is facing are dozens of them for … Continue Reading

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Defense Lawyer Suggests Witness Was Part of a Gang of Thieves

A defense lawyer has suggested that a prosecution witness who once served as an escort to Dominic Ongwen was part of a gang that robbed people and their homes in part of northern Uganda.

Kripus Ayena Odongo asked Witness P-330 about the gang on Wednesday because the witness had previously testified that before he was abducted by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), he was captive of a gang of two men who robbed people in his village.

Witness P-330 has been testifying since last Friday in the trial of Ongwen at the International Criminal Court (ICC). Ongwen is facing 70 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity for his alleged role in attacks on four camps for internally displaced people and … Continue Reading

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Witness Tells Court About Nightmares and Injuries That Continue to Ail Him

A former fighter of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) told the International Criminal Court (ICC) he suffers nightmares to date, and the injuries he received while fighting for the LRA have never healed properly.

Witness P-330 told the court on Tuesday about his nightmares and injuries as part of his testimony as someone who is registered as a victim in the trial of Dominic Ongwen, a former LRA commander. The witness testified last week that he was abducted by the brigade that Ongwen led, and he later became an escort to Ongwen.

This makes Witness P-330 the first dual status witness to testify in the trial of Ongwen. A dual status witness is someone who is a prosecution witness but is also registered … Continue Reading

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Witness Describes Attacks on Camps for Internally Displaced People

A former fighter with the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) gave details about attacks carried out by the LRA on five internally displaced persons (IDP) camps in northern Uganda.

Witness P-330 told judges at the International Criminal Court (ICC) on that Monday Dominic Ongwen, who is on trial at the court, would order the attacks and then get his deputy to implement the order. The witness described Ongwen as the overall commander of the Sinia brigade of which he, the witness, was a member. He said Ongwen’s deputy was called Lapony Okello.

The witness described to the court how Okello selected the fighters to carry out the attacks, what weapons were carried to each attack, and how after each attack the fighters and … Continue Reading

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The Thomas Kwoyelo Case at the ICD: Issues of Victim Participation

Victim participation is becoming a hallmark of transnational justice mechanisms and international criminal justice practices. While the focus should be on victims because they experience the horrors of atrocities that are committed, which these mechanisms seek to redress, they tend to have been marginalized in the past. If their privileges are recognized and met, victims can double as witnesses, can provide very useful information, and can contribute to restorative justice. This, however, is not practiced in common law jurisdictions where the focus is on retribution.

In 2008, Uganda established the International Crimes Division (ICD), which was born of the Juba Peace talks with the Lord’s Resistance (LRA) rebels who operated in northern Uganda and neighboring regions beyond the borders. The court … Continue Reading

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Witness Tells of Meeting to Plan Attack on Pajule Camp for Internally Displaced Persons

A former escort of Dominic Ongwen, who is on trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC), described a meeting that took place before an attack on an internally displaced persons (IDP) camp.

Witness P-330 told the court on Friday about a meeting Ongwen had with the then deputy leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army, Vincent Otti, and other commanders before launching an attack on a northern Uganda town, Pajule, where there was a camp for people displaced by the conflict in the region.

Ongwen is charged for his involvement in the attack on Pajule that took place on or about October 10, 2003. The date of this attack on Pajule is a fact that the prosecution and the defense have agreed upon. … Continue Reading

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