International Justice Monitor

A project of the Open Society Justice Initiative

Gauging Public Interest (Part Three): Community Members’ Suggestions for Increasing Interest in Dominic Ongwen’s ICC Trial

This article explores suggestions from community members in northern Uganda regarding what needs to be done to increase public interest in the trial of Dominic Ongwen. The article follows two previous International Justice Monitor posts that present results from a rapid assessment conducted in September 2017 involving 50 community members and civil society representatives in northern Uganda. The assessment aimed to measure the level of public interest in following the trial of Dominic Ongwen, and established that 56% of the respondents were following the trial, while 44% said they were not following the trial. The third and last post in the series examines views from the participants on how public interest in following the trial can be enhanced.

Ongwen, a former commander … Continue Reading

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Gauging Public Interest (Part Two): Why 44% of Community Members in Northern Uganda Are Not Following Ongwen’s Trial

Last week, the International Justice Monitor published the first part of a three part series presenting results from a rapid assessment conducted in September 2017. The assessment involved 50 community members and civil society representatives in northern Uganda and set out to measure the level of public interest in following the trial of Dominic Ongwen. While 56% of the respondents consulted said they were following the trial, many of them also admitted that they were only following occasionally or on an irregular basis. The remaining 44% of the respondents said they were not following the trial at all. This second post in the series examines views from the participants who said they were not following the trial, and in particular, … Continue Reading

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Gauging Public Interest (Part One): Survey Reveals That Over 56% of Community Members and CSO Representatives are Following Ongwen’s Trial

This article, the first in a series of three posts, uses results from a rapid assessment of 50 community members and civil society representatives in northern Uganda in September 2017 to measure the level of public interest in following the trial of Dominic Ongwen at the International Criminal Court (ICC). While 56% of respondents said they were following the trial, many of them admitted they were only following on an irregular basis. The remaining 44% said they were not following the trial at all, citing a variety of reasons ranging from busy schedules to a lack of interest because the trial is taking place far away from Uganda. The findings also revealed that radio is the most popular method by … Continue Reading

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Community Members React to ICC Witness’s Testimony That He Did Not Know of Atrocities by Ugandan Government Soldiers

On October 3, the director of legal services at the Chieftaincy of Military Intelligence, Lieutenant Colonel Timothy Nabaasa Kanyogonya, denied knowledge of allegations that military commanders of the Uganda Peoples Defence Forces (UPDF) committed atrocities in northern Uganda. This was in response to a question by Krispus Ayena Odongo, the lead lawyer for Dominic Ongwen, asking him to “confirm to the court whether there were hues and cries about incidents of indiscipline of UPDF officers in the prosecution of the war against the LRA.” Kanyogonya responded, “I do not know of any commanders of the UPDF committing atrocities in the war against the LRA.” This article presents reactions to Kanyogonya’s testimony in the community in northern Uganda.

Kanyogonya made the comments … 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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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

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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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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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