International Justice Monitor

A project of the Open Society Justice Initiative

Witness Gives Details of Ugandan Military Operation to Intercept LRA Radio Communications

A member of Uganda’s military told the International Criminal Court (ICC) about his work in four towns in northern and eastern Uganda intercepting radio communications between commanders of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA).

Witness P-339 told the court that he intercepted LRA radio communications for 16 years during which time he was based in Gulu, Acol Pii, Lira or Soroti. He said he was part of the interception operation of the Uganda People’s Defense Force (UPDF), and he also trained other members of the UPDF to intercept LRA radio communications.

The witness testified on November 21 and November 22 during the trial of Dominic Ongwen, a former LRA commander, about his interception work with the UPDF. Ongwen has been charged with 70 … Continue Reading

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Witness Tells Court He Heard a lot of Gunfire, Saw Houses Burning During Abok Attack

A witness told the International Criminal Court (ICC) that when the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) attacked the Abok camp for internally displaced (IDP) people 13 years ago, he heard a lot of gunfire and saw houses burning.

Charles Amodo told the court that the LRA abducted him for one day after the Abok attack, and during this time he carried goods for them and walked a long distance barefoot with short periods of rest.

Amodo testified on November 20 during the trial of Dominic Ongwen, a former LRA commander. Ongwen has been charged with 13 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity for his alleged role in the attack on the Abok IDP camp.

Ongwen faces more counts for his alleged role … Continue Reading

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Q&A with Former LRA Abductee who Served Under Dominic Ongwen

This article presents an abridged version of an interview conducted with a former Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) abductee who served under Dominic Ongwen for one year. Omara (not real name) was abducted in 1997 when he was a 14-year-old pupil at Pader Kilak Primary School in Pader District, northern Uganda. The LRA took him to South Sudan, and shortly after arriving, he was assigned to serve under Ongwen’s command. When Ongwen’s bodyguard was killed in a helicopter gunship attack, Omara was asked to carry the dead man’s gun. He finally escaped the LRA in 1998 and returned home where he was reunited with family.

Ongwen, a former LRA commander, is currently on trial before the International Criminal Court (ICC). … Continue Reading

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Judge Rules that Customary International Law is Applicable in Uganda’s Domestic Courts

On November 22, 2017, the International Crimes Division (ICD) of Uganda sitting at the High Court in Kampala delivered another landmark ruling when it confirmed that customary international law is applicable in the domestic courts of Uganda. It was the fifth pre-trial hearing of the year in the case of Thomas Kwoyelo, and the case is now one-step closer to a final determination on the confirmation of the charges against him.

Colonel Thomas Kwoyelo is a former commander in the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) facing charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity before the ICD of Uganda’s High Court. He first appeared before the ICD in 2011, but the start of his trial was delayed by various preliminary objections regarding … Continue Reading

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Prosecution Witness Testifies About Being Forced to Loot for the LRA

A survivor of a Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) attack on the Abok camp for internally displaced people (IDP) described to the International Criminal Court (ICC) being shot at, being forced to loot, and seeing people’s homes being set on fire during that attack.

Robson Oper told the court he rolled on the ground as LRA fighters shot at him three times and missed. He said one of the LRA fighters then approached him and asked him, “Do I kill you?”

Oper said the fighters called him “Mzee Amuka.” He said this meant they thought he was a member of Amuka, a Ugandan government-backed militia that worked with the Uganda People’s Defense Forces (UPDF) in the Lango region. He said they thought he … Continue Reading

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Witness Says Survivors of LRA Attack on Abok 13 Years Ago Still Unhappy

A leader of the Abok camp for internally displaced people (IDP) told the International Criminal Court (ICC) that survivors of a Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) attack on the camp 13 years ago are not happy because they do not know who killed their relatives and friends.

Douglas Obwor told the court this was important in the Lango culture of the former residents of Abok IDP camp. Obwor also described Abok as being vulnerable to attack because the Ugandan army failed to act on reports of LRA fighters near it, and the commander responsible for protecting the camp fled in the hours before the June 2004 LRA attack.

Obwor was testifying in the trial of a former LRA commander, Dominic Ongwen, who has … Continue Reading

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Witness Testifies to Being Made a “Wife” in the LRA When She was 13

A witness told the International Criminal Court (ICC) that Dominic Ongwen, who is on trial at the court, made her a “wife” of a commander when she was about 13 years old, and she feared she would be killed if she refused.

Witness P-351 told the court on November 14 Ongwen made her a “wife” about a year after the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) abducted her from her village in December 2002.

The witness did not state she was 13 years old at the time, but when Ongwen’s lead lawyer, Krispus Ayena Odongo, questioned Witness P-351 it emerged she was 12 years old when she was abducted. The commander she was given to was not named in open court in order to … Continue Reading

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Expert Explains to Court Steps He Took to Enhance, but not Change, Recordings of LRA Communications

An expert in enhancing audio recordings explained to the International Criminal Court (ICC) the steps he took to make speech more audible in recordings that Ugandan security agencies made of intercepts of communications between various commanders of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA).

Alan Robert French told the court the recordings, made on cassette tapes, were of poor quality and were made with a tape recorder placed near the device used to intercept LRA radio communications. French said he focused on making the speech more audible without distorting it as much as possible.

He said some of the cassette tapes the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) gave him were clearly copies and not the original recordings. French said he did not analyze the … Continue Reading

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Witness Testifies about Forced Marriage and Rape by LRA Commander

A witness described to judges at the International Criminal Court (ICC) some of the sexual violence she said she suffered after she was abducted by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) about 13 years ago. Between November 8th and 9th, Witness P-396 testified in the ICC’s trial of Dominic Ongwen about her time as a “wife” in the LRA.

Witness P-396 told the court that Dominic Ongwen, who is on trial at the ICC, forced her to become a “wife” to an LRA commander. She said that the commander raped her that same night.

Abigail Bridgman, one of Ongwen’s lawyers, doubted Witness P-396 could have met Ongwen because during the time she was in the LRA, Ongwen was not in the Lango area … Continue Reading

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Witness Recounts His Alleged Torture by Ugandan Army After He Escaped the LRA

A survivor of a Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) attack on the Pajule camp for internally displaced people (IDP) in Uganda described to the International Criminal Court (ICC) how Ugandan government soldiers allegedly tortured him for up to three weeks.

Dick Okot testified that he was abducted by the LRA during its attack on the Pajule camp 14 years ago. He later escaped the LRA, he said. He told the court that after he escaped, he spent as many as six weeks with different units of the Uganda People’s Defense Forces (UPDF). Some of those units tortured him, the witness claimed.

He testified about his experiences with the LRA and UPDF during the ICC trial of Dominic Ongwen, a former LRA commander. Ongwen … Continue Reading

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