International Justice Monitor

A project of the Open Society Justice Initiative

Challenges of Legal Representation in the Case of Dominic Onwgen

Dominic Onwgen is a former top commander of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) whose trial is due to commence on December 6, 2016 at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague. Ongwen is charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed in the villages of Lukodi, Odek, Pajule, and Abok, all located in Northern Uganda.

As his trial date looms closer, however, complications have arisen around the issue of legal representation for victims. At the moment, 2,036 victims have been approved for participation in the trial, with more still being registered by the ICC field office in Uganda. The problem stems from the existence of two separate teams of lawyers representing them, a factor that has turned out … Continue Reading

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Thousands of Victims in Uganda Express Willingness to Participate in the Ongwen Case

On December 6, 2016, the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague will commence the trial of Dominic Onwgen, a former top commander of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). Ongwen is charged with committing war crimes and crimes against humanity that allegedly occurred between 2002 and 2004 when the LRA was engaged in an insurgency against the government of Uganda. He is alleged to have committed the crimes in the Internally Displaced Person (IDP) camps of Lukodi, Odek, Pajule-Lapul, and Abok, all located in Northern Uganda.

Victims of crimes under investigation by the ICC can apply to participate in proceedings through a lawyer, apply for reparations, seek assistance, and submit communications to the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP). Such participation is … Continue Reading

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LRA Commander Ongwen Appears Before ICC Judge

Today, Ugandan rebel commander Dominic Ongwen made his initial appearance before an International Criminal Court (ICC) judge, nearly ten years after the world court issued an arrest warrant against him.

The alleged Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) second-in-command appeared before Pre-Trial Judge Ekaterina Trendafilova to confirm his identify and be informed of the charges against him.

Earlier this month, Mr. Ongwen reportedly surrendered to peacekeeping troops in the Central African Republic and his transfer to The Hague was agreed by American Special Forces and Ugandan troops searching for the group’s leaders in that country.

In court this afternoon, Mr. Ongwen said he was born in 1975 in the northern Uganda district of Gulu and abducted by the LRA at the age of 14 years. … Continue Reading

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Mixed Reactions in Uganda as LRA Commander is Transferred to the ICC

The transfer to the International Criminal Court (ICC) of Ugandan rebel commander Dominic Ongwen has drawn mixed reactions in his home country where he allegedly committed war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The second-in-command to Joseph Kony, whose Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) wrecked havoc in northern Uganda for nearly two decades, has arrived in The Hague following his surrender in the Central African Republic (CAR) earlier this month.

However, while there appears to be wide support in the capital Kampala for Mr. Ongwen’s trial in The Hague, local media has run numerous reports of victims of his crimes suggesting that the rebel commander should be tried locally.

There have also been suggestions by some victims, particularly members of his Acholi community that were … Continue Reading

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Will Indicted Ugandan LRA Commander be Sent to the ICC?

The Ugandan army has confirmed that the rebel commander who surrendered in the Central African Republic (CAR) this week is Major-General Dominic Ongwen, one of the Ugandan fugitives indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in 2005. However, it remains unclear whether Uganda will surrender him to the world court.

Uganda’s president Yoweri Museveni has recently led the campaign for African countries to abandon the ICC, making it unlikely that the senior Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) commander will be transferred to The Hague.

While there are suggestions that he should be tried locally, there are also strong voices urging amnesty for the 34-year-old rebel commander, on the ground that he himself was a victim of the LRA, having been abducted and conscripted … Continue Reading

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