International Justice Monitor

A project of the Open Society Justice Initiative

Community Members in Northern Uganda Elated by Visit of ICC Judges

Community members in northern Uganda were elated by the visit of the three International Criminal Court (ICC) judges hearing the case against Dominic Ongwen. Judges Bertram Schmitt, Péter Kovács, and Raul C. Pangalangan visited northern Uganda from June 3-9, 2018 and interacted with community members in Pajule, Odek, Lukodi, and Abok. These are the locations in which Ongwen is accused of leading attacks on Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps.

Ongwen’s trial started on December 6, 2016, and the prosecution’s presentation of evidence concluded in April this year. The trial is currently on recess until September 18, when the defense will make its opening statements. Ongwen has been charged with 70 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity for his alleged … Continue Reading

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Confirmation of Charges Hearing against Thomas Kwoyelo Postponed Again

The confirmation of charges hearing against Thomas Kwoyelo, alias Latoni, has been postponed yet again to July 23, 2018, purportedly due to a lack of quorum by the defense lawyers. The adjournment occurred on Monday, June 11, at the International Crimes Division (ICD) sitting at the High Court of Uganda in Kampala. The session was presided over by Justice Susan Okalany, who has overseen the pre-trial phase of Kwoyelo’s case since 2016.

During Monday’s hearing, Justice Okalany warned that this would be the last adjournment and stipulated that at the next hearing, the charges would be read and confirmed in the same week. Meanwhile, Kwoyelo, who was present in court, expressed anger at the slow pace of the proceedings, but the … Continue Reading

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Do Victims Feel Adequately Represented in Ongwen’s Trial?

On April 13, 2018, the International Criminal Court (ICC) Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda notified the court that the prosecution had concluded presenting its case against former Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) commander Dominic Ongwen. This paved way for the second phase of the trial, in which the ICC judges permitted two teams of victims’ representatives to call witnesses to testify about the harm they suffered during the conflict in northern Uganda. This article explores community member’s reactions to this development and whether those in northern Uganda feel they have been adequately represented.

Ongwen has been charged with 70 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity for his alleged role in the attack on four camps for internally displaced people (IDP): Lukodi, Abok, … Continue Reading

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Over 2000 Community Members in Lukodi Attend Annual Memorial Prayers

On May 19, 2018, community members commemorated the 14th anniversary of the Lukodi massacre that resulted in the death of 69 people. Over 2,000 community members, including representatives of civil society organizations and local leaders, attended the event.

For the second year running, the memorial prayers were held in the shadow of the ongoing International Criminal Court (ICC) trial of Dominic Ongwen, the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) commander accused of leading the attack on Lukodi. This article explores the perspectives of community members regarding the significance of the prayers amidst Ongwen’s trial and their expectations for justice.

Ongwen is charged with 13 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity in relation to the 2004 attack on Lukodi. He has also been … Continue Reading

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What Community Members in Northern Uganda Think About the Prosecution’s Performance Following the Conclusion of its Case

On April 12, 2018, the last prosecution witness in the trial of Dominic Ongwen presented his testimony, ending the prosecution’s side of the case. This article presents perceptions of community members in northern Uganda on the prosecution’s performance. The perceptions explore whether community members are satisfied with the overall performance of the prosecution, their choice of witnesses, the evidence adduced, and what they liked or did not like about the trial so far.

Ongwen, a former commander of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), has been on trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC) since December 2016. He is charged with 70 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity, including sexual and gender based crimes, committed from 2002 to 2005. Over … Continue Reading

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Sexual Violence against Men and Boys and its Relevance to the Trial of Dominic Ongwen

On February 2, 2018, the legal representatives for victims (LRV) in the trial of Dominic Ongwen sought leave to present evidence highlighting the harm victims have suffered as a result of crimes committed by the accused. Among the five issues highlighted by the LRV was the infliction of sexual violence on men and boys. The LRV’s submission raises a question regarding the relevancy of sexual violence committed against men and boys by the LRA, particularly given the fact that the LRA was known to target mostly women and girls.

Ongwen is charged with 70 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity. He is alleged to have committed the crimes between July 2002 and December 2005 while he was a commander … Continue Reading

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Dwog Cen Paco (Come Back Home): The Radio Program that Could Have Influenced Dominic Ongwen’s Surrender

At the height of the conflict in northern Uganda, various methods were employed to reach out to Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) fighters, urging them to abandon rebellion and return home. John Oryema Lacambel, or simply Lacambel, is a radio presenter who outdid himself and became popular because of a program called “Come Back Home” or Dwog Cen Paco in Acholi language, through which he played traditional Acholi music and persuaded many LRA fighters to surrender.

Could this program also have influenced Dominic Ongwen, the former LRA former commander who is currently on trial at International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, to abandon rebellion? This article presents excerpts of an interview with Lacambel, who continues to be a presenter at Mega … Continue Reading

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Thrice Abducted: Perspectives from a Former LRA Signaler who Served with Ongwen

He was abducted three times and spent over 10 years in the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), where he served as a force signaler. After he finally escaped, he was granted amnesty by the Ugandan government. This article explores the perspectives of this former long-serving LRA fighter regarding the trial of Dominic Ongwen, whom he met and served with while in captivity. In this article, we shall refer to him as “Omara” to protect his identity. Omara expressed his opinion about the trial during an interview conducted with him in northern Uganda in March 2018.

Ongwen, a former LRA commander is currently on trial at International Criminal Court (ICC), where he is charged with over 70 counts of war crimes and crimes … Continue Reading

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How the ICC Field Office in Uganda is Using SMS to Update Communities about the Ongwen Trial

In northern Uganda, many people have expressed interest in following the trial of former Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) commander Dominic Ongwen. However, most people are unable to do so on a regular basis due to lack of convenient channels. For this reason, the International Criminal Court (ICC) field office in Uganda began disseminating information through short message services (SMS) or text messages. This article explores perspectives of select community members in Lukodi village regarding the effectiveness of the initiative.

Ongwen, a former commander of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) has been on trial since December 6, 2016. He is charged with 70 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed in the former Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps of … Continue Reading

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ICC Trust Fund for Victims’ Delegation Visits Gulu; Pledges More Support for Rehabilitation Programs

Last month, the government of Ireland in partnership with the Trust Fund for Victims (TFV) at the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) led a delegation of States Parties representatives to northern Uganda and interacted with conflict survivors and conflict affected communities. This is significant because as Dominic Ongwen’s trial continues at the ICC, a key factor that continues to generate debate is the mental, physical, and psychosocial rehabilitation of conflict survivors.

According to a press release [pdf] by the TFV, the visit was initiated by the government of Ireland and was aimed at monitoring and “reviewing implementation of TFV projects in northern Uganda, meeting with victims and survivors and affected communities who have been receiving support from the TFV.” The visit was … Continue Reading

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