International Justice Monitor

A project of the Open Society Justice Initiative

Judge Orders Prosecution Experts to Testify on Ongwen’s Mental Health

The issue of Dominic Ongwen’s mental health while he was a commander of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) has become a matter Trial Chamber IX will have to assess when the judges weigh the evidence presented during Ongwen’s trial.

This follows the order Single Judge of Trial Chamber IX, Bertram Schmitt, issued allowing three prosecution mental health experts to testify at the end of the prosecution case. Judge Schmitt made his November 16 decision after ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda requested Witnesses P-445, P-446, and P-447 be allowed to testify.

Bensouda made her October 24 request after the issue of Ongwen’s mental fitness to stand trial was addressed in December last year, and related matters arose earlier this year. She also made the … Continue Reading

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Witness Asks ICC to Help Children Born to LRA Abductees

A woman who had a child while she was an abductee of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) has asked the International Criminal Court (ICC) to assist children born to LRA abductees or made orphan by conflict in northern Uganda.

Witness P-006 told the court the LRA abducted her when she was 16 or 17 years old during the October 10, 2003 attack on the Pajule camp for internally displaced people (IDP). She said she was later made a “wife” to an LRA fighter and had a child while in captivity. Witness P-006 said since escaping the group she has found it difficult to provide for her child.

She testified on November 30 in the trial of Dominic Ongwen, a former LRA commander. … Continue Reading

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Witness Says Survivors of LRA Attack on Abok Still Have Nightmares

A leader of the Abok camp for internally displaced people (IDP) told the International Criminal Court (ICC) that some survivors of a Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) attack on the camp 13 years ago still have nightmares about that attack.

Cyprian Ayoo told the court Abok was attacked around eight at night on June 8, 2004, and the attack continued for up to three hours during which time he heard three exchanges of gunfire and saw the homes of camp residents being set on fire. Ayoo said some of the residents who were abducted returned the following day after Ugandan government soldiers pursued the LRA.

“Were they [survivors of the Abok attack] fearful of another attack happening?” asked Megan Hirst, a lawyer representing … Continue Reading

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DNA Expert Says Tests Show Ongwen is the Father of 11 Children

The question of whether Dominic Ongwen fathered 12 children during his time with the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) was the subject of the November 27 hearing at the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Ate Kloosterman, a DNA expert, told the court he conducted two separate tests on samples from 12 children and Dominic Ongwen to determine the paternity of the children. He said the results showed that 11 of them are most likely Ongwen’s children. Kloosterman said the tests showed the probability of this to be 99.9 percent.

The question of paternity in the trial of Ongwen, a former LRA commander, may be relevant because Ongwen has been charged with two counts of forced pregnancy as a war crime and as a crime … Continue Reading

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Witness Gives Details of Uganda Police Intercept Operation

A witness told the International Criminal Court (ICC) that the Uganda Police Force ran its own operation to eavesdrop on radio communication between various commanders of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) that was independent of similar operations by other security agencies.

Patrick Lumumba Nyero told the court that he began intercepting LRA radio communication for the police in 2003 and continued to do so for three years until he was unable to hear LRA commanders communicate. He said during the three years he eavesdropped on LRA commanders he was able to hear them as far away as Sudan while he was at his post in northern Uganda.

Nyero testified about the Uganda Police Force intercept operation between November 22 and November 23 … Continue Reading

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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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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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