International Justice Monitor

A project of the Open Society Justice Initiative

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

1 Comment

Witness Tells Court About Former LRA Officers Senior to Ongwen Who are Free

A former intelligence officer of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) told the International Criminal Court (ICC) that the Ugandan government has not prosecuted four former LRA members who held the same or higher rank than Dominic Ongwen, who is on trial at the ICC.

Thomas Obhof, one of Ongwen’s defense lawyers, asked Witness P-142 on Tuesday about the rank Kenneth Banya, Sam Kolo, Onen Kabule and Odongo Acellam held while they were in the LRA and whether they were free after leaving the rebel group. The witness said that he knew of only one of the four being imprisoned, but it was for crimes he committed after he left the LRA and not in relation to any actions he took while … Continue Reading

2 Comments

LRA was Trained by and Shared Bases with Sudanese Military, Says Witness

A former intelligence officer with the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) told the International Criminal Court (ICC) that the Ugandan rebel group was trained by and shared bases with Sudan’s military in the 1990s.

Witness P-142 told the court on Monday that in 1994 or 1995 the Ugandan military attacked the LRA in the bases it shared with Sudan’s military in what used to be the southern part of Sudan. What was southern Sudan seceded from that country after a 2011 referendum to form the independent nation of South Sudan.

The witness testified about what happened in Sudan of the 1990s while responding to the questions of defense lawyer Thomas Obhof, who is representing Dominic Ongwen, a former LRA commander on trial at … Continue Reading

Leave a comment

Witness: Ongwen Distributed Abducted Girls to LRA Leaders

A former intelligence officer in the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebel group has told International Criminal Court (ICC) judges that war crimes accused Dominic Ongwen was in charge of “distributing” abducted girls and women to senior fighters in his brigade.

Testifying under the pseudonym Witness P-142, the former fighter said once girls and women were abducted, they did not stay with low-ranking fighters but were instead taken to the commander of a brigade. It was the commander’s responsibility to assign the abductees as wives to senior members of his brigade after receiving the blessing of the LRA leader Joseph Kony.

“No ordinary person was allowed to stay with these [abductees],” said Witness P-142. “It was the senior commanders to decide what to … Continue Reading

Leave a comment

A Tale of Two Origins: Two Families in Northern Uganda Claim Ongwen as Their Son

It has been nearly five months since the trial of Dominic Ongwen started at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, and one topic that has been a source of controversy, even before his surrender and transfer to the ICC, concerns his origin. This is because two separate families claim him as their son.

Ongwen, a former commander of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), is charged with 70 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed in attacks that took place between 2003 and 2004 in the internally displaced persons camps of Pajule, Odek, Abok, and Lukodi. Ongwen has also been charged with sexual and gender-based crimes, including the crime of forced marriage. Ongwen surrendered to the Séléka … Continue Reading

2 Comments

Ongwen’s Lawyer Challenges Former LRA Abductee’s Account

Dominic Ongwen’s lawyers at the International Criminal Court (ICC) on Wednesday challenged the account that a former abductee of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebels made regarding an attack on a camp for internally displaced persons (IDPs). Defense lawyer Charles Achaleke Taku alleged that there were contradictions between the statement the witness made to Ugandan police in 2004 and her testimony in court about the attack.

Testifying for the prosecution under the pseudonym Witness P-18, the former abductee said she was part of the group of LRA fighters who attacked the IDP camp at Lukodi and the army detachment at the same location. She said she was not armed during the attack but went along with the fighters to carry food … Continue Reading

Leave a comment

Witness Says Lukodi Was Not Original Target of LRA Attack

A former abductee of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) told the International Criminal Court that the Lukodi camp for internally displaced people that Dominic Ongwen is charged with attacking was not originally intended to be a target.

Witness P-18 told the court on Tuesday that Awach, another town in northern Uganda, was the intended target, but the LRA changed plans because there was a strong presence of government soldiers in that location. The witness said she learned about the change in plans when her unit and another unit of the LRA gathered before the attack.

Ongwen has been charged with attacking Lukodi in May 2004. He is also charged for his alleged role in attacks on three other camps for people displaced … Continue Reading

2 Comments

Witness Tells Court About Her Rape in the LRA, Work as a Babysitter

A former servant in the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) described to the International Criminal Court (ICC) being raped by an LRA fighter at the age of 13 and her duties as a babysitter.

Witness P-352 told the court on Monday that as a babysitter she was expected to carry the child she was assigned to care for whenever the unit changed location or run, carrying the child, if the unit came under attack. She said she and other girls who worked as servants were commonly referred to as ting ting in the LRA.

The witness said soon after she was abducted by the LRA she served for four to five months in what she called the household of Buk. This is the … Continue Reading

1 Comment

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

Leave a comment

Witness Says He Was Happy When Ongwen Escaped the LRA

A prosecution witness told the International Criminal Court (ICC) he was extremely happy when he heard news Dominic Ongwen, who is on trial at the court, had escaped the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA).

Witness P-264 told the court on Wednesday that when he heard the news he, the witness, had by then also escaped from the LRA.

The witness told the court on Monday he had been a member of the Oka battalion, which was one of three battalions in Sinia brigade. Witness P-264 has said this week that at the time Ongwen was the brigade commander of Sinia.

Ongwen has been charged for his alleged role as a commander of the LRA in attacks on camps for people displaced … Continue Reading

Leave a comment