International Justice Monitor

A project of the Open Society Justice Initiative

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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Les juges refusent une nouvelle fois de diminuer la peine de M. Lubanga prononcée devant la CPI

Les juges de la Cour pénale internationale (CPI) ont une nouvelle fois refusé de diminuer la peine prononcée à l’encontre de l’ancien chef rebelle congolais Thomas Lubanga qui purge actuellement une peine de prison de 14 ans. M. Lubanga, la première personne à être jugée par la Cour, a été condamnée en 2012 pour l’utilisation d’enfants soldats dans un conflit armé dans l’est de la République démocratique du Congo (RDC).

Plus tôt dans le mois, les juges Silvia Fernández de Gurmendi, Howard Morrison et Piotr Hofmański avaient décidé que depuis l’examen initial de la peine il y a deux ans, il n’y avait pas eu de modification significative des circonstances permettant de justifier une libération anticipée de M. Lubanga.

De plus, les juges ont déclaré … Continue Reading

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Judges Again Decline to Reduce Lubanga’s ICC Sentence

International Criminal Court (ICC) judges have once again declined to reduce the sentence for former Congolese rebel leader Thomas Lubanga, who is currently serving a 14-year prison term. Lubanga, the first person to be tried by the court, was convicted in 2012 over the use of child soldiers in an armed conflict in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Earlier this month, Judges Silvia Fernández de Gurmendi, Howard Morrison, and Piotr Hofmański determined that since the initial review of the sentence two years ago, there had been no significant change in circumstances to warrant Lubanga’s early release.

Furthermore, the judges stated that they saw no reason to schedule a further review of Lubanga’s sentence, given that it expires on March 15, 2020. … Continue Reading

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Witness Says He Heard LRA Leader Joseph Kony Wanted to Attack Pajule, Not Odek

Witness P-275, a survivor of an attack on the Odek camp for internally displaced people 13 years ago, testified before the International Criminal Court last week. Lawyers challenged the witness about his recollection of when he escaped the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and what he knew about the Odek attack.

Witness P-275 told the International Criminal Court (ICC) that he never saw Dominic Ongwen, a former LRA commander on trial at the ICC, during the time he was an abductee of the LRA. The witness said he was abducted when the LRA attacked Odek in April 2004.

Charles Taku, a lawyer representing Ongwen, doubted Witness P-275 when he told the court he was with the LRA for up to two and a … Continue Reading

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Witness Says Ugandan Government Soldiers Feared Ongwen

A former fighter with the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) who served under Dominic Ongwen told the International Criminal Court (ICC) that Ugandan army soldiers feared Ongwen, preferring to ambush Ongwen’s group rather than confront them in battle.

On November 2, Witness P-231 testified that he was a member of the LRA’s Oka battalion when Ongwen was the battalion commander.

He described Ongwen as “very knowledgeable” in military matters, which he said was one of the reasons government soldiers often did not pursue Ongwen’s unit after they had attacked a place.

“For that matter, government soldiers rarely followed us. If they want[ed] to fight us they would ambush us,” said Witness P-231.

Ongwen is on trial for his alleged role in attacks on the Abok, … Continue Reading

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Witness Names Senior LRA Commanders Who Planned and Organized Pajule Attack

A witness described to the International Criminal Court (ICC) some of the habits of the leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), Joseph Kony, as well as his reasons for fighting a rebellion in northern Uganda.

Witness P-138 told the court that Kony remained in Sudan while most of his senior officers and fighters were in Uganda. However, Kony never stayed in one place in Sudan, according to the witness. The witness also testified that Kony wanted to become Uganda’s president and that Kony would claim he was not fighting for the Acholi, Kony’s ethnic group.

The witness, who testified between October 30 and November 1, was with the LRA for about eight years. During that time he served under Vincent Otti, … Continue Reading


Defense Lawyers Ask ICC Appeals Judges to Reduce Katanga’s Financial Liability in Reparations

Lawyers for former Congolese militia leader Germain Katanga have petitioned International Criminal Court (ICC) appeals judges to reduce the US$1 million order of reparations the former militia commander received earlier this year. They claim Katanga lacks the ability to pay and that the amount does not fairly reflect the role he played in the crimes for which he was convicted.

Katanga, a former leader of an armed militia that became known as the Force de Résistance Patriotique en Ituri (Patriotic Resistance Forces in Ituri), was convicted in March 2014 of being an accessory to war crimes and crimes against humanity stemming from a February 2003 attack on civilians in Bogoro village in the Democratic Republic of Congo. He was sentenced to … Continue Reading

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High-Profile Molina Theissen Trial to Start in Guatemala in March 2018

The public trial in the high-profile Molina Theissen case will begin on March 1, 2018. The High Risk Court “C,” which will hear the case, notified the parties of this decision last week.

Last March, the pretrial judge charged five retired senior military officers with crimes against humanity for the illegal detention, torture, and rape of Emma Molina Theissen, and for the enforced disappearance of her 14-year-old brother, Marco Antonio Molina Theissen, in 1981.

The five officials, all retired, include two heavily decorated generals who were widely believed to be untouchable: former army chief of staff Benedicto Lucas García and Manuel Callejas y Callejas, former head of military intelligence and presumed leader of the Cofradía organized crime syndicate.

Benedicto Lucas García, retired general and former army chief … Continue Reading

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M. Ntaganda réduit le nombre de ses témoins à quarante

L’ancien commandant rebelle congolais Bosco Ntaganda a réduit de 100 à 40 le nombre des témoins qu’il appellera à témoigner devant la Cour pénale internationale (CPI) à la suite du témoignage qu’il a apporté pour sa propre défense et qui a duré plusieurs semaines. Avant que M. Ntaganda ne commence son témoignage, les avocats de la défense ont déclaré qu’il réduirait de manière importante la plaidoirie si l’accusé était autorisé à témoigner pendant plusieurs semaines au début de la présentation des moyens de la défense.

Après la conclusion du témoignage de M. Ntaganda à la fin du mois dernier, ses avocats ont déposé une liste actualisée comprenant 40 témoins. La semaine dernière, les avocats ont indiqué qu’ils n’appelleraient plus aucun de ces témoins … Continue Reading

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