International Justice Monitor

A project of the Open Society Justice Initiative

Ongwen Defense Intends to Call 66 Witnesses When Trial Resumes in September

The defense of Dominic Ongwen, a former commander of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) who is on trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC), intends to call up to 66 witnesses to testify when hearings resume in September.

Single Judge Bertram Schmitt announced in a June 5 order that the trial of Ongwen will resume on September 18. At the ICC, the Single Judge is one of the judges of a trial chamber who is designated to handle procedural matters on behalf of the other judges.

In his order, Judge Schmitt said the defense will have five hours to make their opening statement on September 18. He also said the first block of witnesses will testify between September 27 and October 10.

When … Continue Reading

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The Ongwen Trial: The Prosecution’s Case in Numbers

On April 13, the prosecution formally concluded presenting their evidence in the International Criminal Court trial of Dominic Ongwen, a former commander of the Lord’s Resistance Army. Below are some key numbers pertaining to the prosecution’s case.

142 days: The time it took for prosecution witnesses to testify. The first prosecution witness began testifying on January 16, 2017. The last one concluded their testimony on April 12, 2018.

69 witnesses: The number of prosecution witnesses who testified before the International Criminal Court (ICC) between January 2017 and April 2018. A wide range of witnesses testified, including experts, members of Ugandan security agencies, former members of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), and survivors of attacks on four camps for internally displaced people (IDP).

Categories … Continue Reading

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Expert says Acholi culture cannot mitigate all the effects of LRA conflict

A psychiatrist told the International Criminal Court that Acholi culture does not have all the answers for addressing the effects of the almost-20 year conflict in northern Uganda between the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and the government.

Psychiatrist Seggane Musisi testified on Wednesday and Thursday the trial of Dominic Ongwen, a former LRA commander, about Acholi culture and trauma. He told the court that the conflict led to northern Uganda’s having many orphans and many women having children because of rape, situations he said Acholi culture never had to confront before.

Musisi said that women with children born out of rape faced severe difficulty earning a livelihood because most are not married and therefore do not have land to cultivate.

He said a … Continue Reading

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Expert Testifies About Impact of Sexual Violence on the Mental Health of Survivors

A psychiatrist told the International Criminal Court (ICC) on Monday, May 14, that stabilizing a survivor of sexual violence is a crucial first step in dealing with the trauma the survivor has suffered.

Daryn Scott Reicherter told the court that this may be more important than helping a survivor of sexual violence get medical care. Reicherter was giving his opinion based on his experience in researching trauma and sexual violence in different parts of the world.

He is a professor of psychiatry at Stanford University and the director of the Human Rights and Trauma Mental Health Laboratory at the university.

Reicherter also based his opinion on his review of transcripts of the testimony of several survivors of sexual violence who have testified in … Continue Reading

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Researcher Tells ICC that LRA Attacks Have a Long-Term Impact on Survivors

A researcher told the International Criminal Court (ICC) that the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) attacks on three camps for internally displaced people (IDP) 14 years ago continue to have a negative impact on survivors of those attacks as well as their children.

Teddy Atim told the court on May 4 that survivors of the attacks on the Abok, Lukodi, and Odek IDP camps were generally worse off compared to other northern Ugandans who did not suffer similar attacks. Atim is a researcher with the Feinstein International Center of Tufts University.

Referring to research she conducted with others, Atim said there is a higher percentage of people with disabilities among survivors of the Abok, Lukodi, and Odek attacks compared to northern Ugandans not … Continue Reading

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Long-Time Councilor Says Lukodi Residents Still Suffer Impact of LRA Attack 14 Years Ago

A long serving councilor told the International Criminal Court (ICC) that many Lukodi residents have not recovered psychologically or economically since the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) attacked a camp in the area 14 years ago.

Gibson Okulu told the court on May 3 that Lukodi residents no longer collaborated on different projects as they used before the May 19, 2004 LRA attack on the Lukodi camp for internally displaced people (IDP).

He described many Lukodi residents suffering mental breakdowns or showing signs of depression. Okulu said those residents who were able to farm have not been able to regain the standard of livelihood they had before the May 2004 attack on the Lukodi.

Okulu said he has been a local councilor one (LC1) … Continue Reading

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Teacher Describes Lukodi Primary School Students as ‘A Lost Generation’

A long-serving teacher described students at Lukodi Primary School as a lost generation because for the past 14 years only a few have advanced beyond primary school.

Vincent Oyet told the International Criminal Court (ICC) on Wednesday, May 2, that these students were taught under adverse conditions and have had a troubled childhood.

Oyet was testifying in the trial of a former commander of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), Dominic Ongwen. He told the court he has been a teacher at Lukodi Primary School for the past 16 years or so.

He testified about the period between 2002, when he first became a teacher at Lukodi Primary School, and 2006 when he described the security situation in Lukodi as “starting to normalize.” The … Continue Reading

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Witness Talks of Not Being Accepted Back in School After Escaping LRA

On Tuesday, May 1, a witness described to the International Criminal Court (ICC) how he changed schools three times after students and teachers taunted and chased him away for being in the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) for two years.

Witness V-2 told the court on Tuesday he eventually abandoned school and turned to farming to help his family. Witness V-2 was testifying in the trial of a former LRA commander, Dominic Ongwen, which resumed on Tuesday after an 18-day break.

The testimony of Witness V-2 marked the beginning of the victims’ phase of the trial. This is after ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda formally gave notice on April 13 that the prosecution had concluded presenting its case. The last prosecution witness, psychologist Roland … Continue Reading

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Prosecution Psychologist Says Ongwen Suffered Trauma While in the LRA But Did Not Have a Mental Disorder

A prosecution psychologist criticized how two defense mental health experts concluded Dominic Ongwen had a mental disorder between 2002 and 2005, saying he found their reports contradictory.

Roland Weierstall told the International Criminal Court (ICC) when he testified on Wednesday, April 11, and Thursday, April 12, there was no doubt that Ongwen suffered trauma between 2002 and 2005. These years cover the period during which the ICC prosecution alleges Ongwen to have committed war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Weierstall told the court Ongwen suffered trauma while he was a member of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) but that did not automatically mean he had a mental disorder.

He also said he doubted whether Ongwen had attempted to commit suicide eight times while … Continue Reading

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Psychiatrist Says Ongwen’s ‘Resilience’ Should be Taken into Account When ICC Considers Judgement

A psychiatrist called by the prosecution told the International Criminal Court (ICC) that the fact Dominic Ongwen was abducted as a child and survived for decades in the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) should be taken into account when judges determine his innocence or guilt.

Catherine Abbo, however, told the court that Ongwen did not have a mental disorder between 2002 and 2005, which is the period that covers the charges against him. Abbo testified between March 26 and March 28.

Ongwen has been charged with 70 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed in northern Uganda. As a commander of the LRA, Ongwen is alleged to have been involved in attacks on four camps for internally displaced people, and … Continue Reading

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