International Justice Monitor

A project of the Open Society Justice Initiative

Timeline

1987

Joseph Kony forms the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) from the remnants of the Holy Spirit Movement that was led by Alice Lakwena.

1988

Dominic Ongwen is abducted by the LRA while on his way to school.

March 17, 1999

Uganda signs the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC).

June 14, 2002

Uganda ratifies the Rome Statute becoming the 68th State party.

September 2003

According to ICC Office of the Prosecutor (OTP), Ongwen becomes a part of the “Control Altar” – the central command of the LRA and is appointed second-in-command of the Sinia brigade.

December 16, 2003

The government of Uganda refers the situation concerning the Lord’s Resistance Army in northern Uganda to the ICC.

April 29, 2004

The LRA attacks Odek Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp, killing at least 61 civilians. According to the OTP, Ongwen briefs and instructs troops prior to the attack, plans the attack itself, orders soldiers under his command to commit crimes, deploys troops, commands and coordinates the attack on the ground, and liaises by radio with his superiors before and after the attack.

May 20, 2004

The LRA attacks the Lukodi IDP camp in the Gulu district of northern Uganda. According to the OTP, Ongwen led this attack as the commander of LRA forces. The attack resulted in the death of at least 40 civilians, injury to at least 13 people, the abduction of at least six people, as well as approximately 210 civilian houses being burned.

June 8, 2004

The LRA attacks the Abok IDP camp, then situated in Ngai sub-county, in Apac district, causing the death of approximately 25 persons, including children, the abduction of approximately 26 people, and the destruction of food stocks. Ongwen is alleged to have planned and organized the attack and selected and provided LRA fighters.

July 29, 2004

The ICC Prosecutor finds grounds to investigate the situation in northern Uganda, which falls within the jurisdiction of the ICC.

May 18, 2005

The OTP submits an application to Pre-Trial Chamber II requesting arrest warrants for five suspects alleged to be top LRA commanders: Ongwen, Kony, Vincent Otti, Okot Odhiambo, and Raska Lukiwiya

July 8, 2005

Pre-Trial Chamber II  issues arrest warrants under seal against Ongwen and the other four LRA commanders. Ongwen is initially charged with three counts of crimes against humanity and four counts of war crimes for crimes committed at the Lukodi IDP camp.

October 13, 2005

Pre-Trial Chamber II unseals the warrants of arrest against LRA leaders.

July 2006

The autonomous government of South Sudan initiates a series of negotiations between the government of Uganda and the LRA aimed at possible peace agreement. The negotiations are held in Juba, and as the talks progress they get the backing of the United Nations.

2007

The ICC begins to accept victim applications for participation in the case against Ongwen and his co-accused LRA leaders.

July 11, 2007

Pre-Trial Chamber II terminates proceedings against Lukwiya following forensic confirmation of his death.

2008

Peace talks fail because LRA leader Joseph Kony does not sign the final agreement reached between LRA negotiators and the Ugandan government.

June 25, 2010

Uganda domesticates the Rome Statute through the Uganda International Criminal Court Act, which provides for prosecution of Rome Statute offenses, in addition to the offenses of terrorism, human trafficking, and piracy.

October 2, 2011

The American government authorizes the deployment of 100 troops to join Ugandan forces searching for LRA rebels in Uganda, South Sudan, the Central African Republic (CAR), and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

November 2011

The African Union designates the LRA as a terrorist group and appoints Francisco Madeira, then Special Representative for Counter‐Terrorism Cooperation and Director of the African Center for the Study and Research on Terrorism (ACSRT), as the Special Envoy on the LRA issue.

January 6, 2015

Ongwen surrenders in the CAR to the Central African Seleka rebels.  The Seleka fighters hand him over to American troops in the CAR who were working alongside the Ugandan army.

January 16, 2015

Ongwen is surrendered to ICC custody from the CAR.

January 21, 2015

Ongwen is transferred to the ICC detention center after consenting to appear voluntarily before the court.

January 26, 2015

Ongwen makes his initial appearance before the pre-trial chamber. The chamber provisionally schedules the confirmation of charges hearing for August 24, 2015.

On the same day, the Legal Representatives of Victims submits a filing to communicate victim concerns about the limited scope of the charges brought against Ongwen. The victims’ lawyers raise the need for further investigations in relation to Ongwen’s involvement in crimes committed by the LRA, not only in Uganda, but also in neighboring DRC, CAR, and South Sudan. Specific allegations mentioned in the filing include gender-based crimes and recruitment, conscription, and enlistment of child soldiers

February 6, 2015

The pre-trial chamber severs the Ongwen proceedings from the case against Kony, Otti, and Odhiambo to avoid proceeding against the remaining suspects in absentia and delaying pre-trial proceedings.

March 6, 2015

Pre-Trial Chamber II postpones the confirmation of charges hearing until January 21, 2016 to allow the OTP time to reestablish contact with witnesses and collect new evidence, including evidence that relates to potential new charges against Ongwen that might have accrued since the 2005 warrant was issued.

May 19, 2015

The OTP confirms they are conducting further investigations with a view to bring additional charges against Ongwen, possibly related to sexual slavery and other sexual crimes, enlistment of child soldiers, and an attack on IDP camps.

June 29, 2015

The pre-trial chamber states that it is seriously considering exploring the desirability and feasibility of holding the confirmation of charges hearing in Uganda and of making a recommendation to the ICC Presidency to this effect. The chamber orders the parties to provide their views on the matter and the Registrar to provide an assessment as to the possibility of holding the confirmation of charges hearing in Uganda.

September 10, 2015

Pre-Trial Chamber II recommends to the ICC Presidency that holding Ongwen’s confirmation of charges hearing in Uganda would be desirable, in the interests of justice, and beneficial to the perception of the ICC in Africa. The Registry submits that the cost of holding the trial in Uganda would be considerable and a significant drain on resources during the court’s move to its permanent premises at the end of 2015.

The pre-trial chamber terminates proceedings against Odhiambo following forensic confirmation of his death.

September 18, 2015

The prosecutor announces that she will charge Ongwen with 70 charges for crimes of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

October 28, 2015

The ICC Presidency decides that the confirmation of charges hearings will be held in The Hague at the premises of the ICC because the potential risks of an in situ hearing outweigh the potential benefits. The Presidency highlights the significant costs of moving the proceedings and the potential for the political tensions associated with the cotemporaneous Ugandan elections.

November 27, 2015

The single judge of the pre-trial chamber clarifies that Legal Representatives of Victims (LRVs) individually chosen by some participating victims cannot be considered a “common legal representative chosen by the Court” and, as such, do not qualify for financial assistance from the court.

January 21-27, 2016

The confirmation of charges hearing is held.

March 23, 2016

The pre-trial chamber confirms all 70 charges brought against Ongwen. The ICC field office televises the proceedings from The Hague to different parts of Uganda, particularly to northern region where the LRA committed grave atrocities.

May 26, 2016

On appeal, the single judge of the pre-trial chamber confirms that victims who appoint external legal representatives cannot benefit from legal aid. Victims who cannot afford external legal representation may seek legal representation, free of charge, from the Office of Public Counsel for Victims (OPCV), as the common legal representative of victims appointed by the court in the present case.

July 18, 2016

The trial chamber rejects requests to hold opening statements in the Ongwen trial in northern Uganda, citing security concerns and the workload of the judges hearing the case.

December 6, 2016

The trial is scheduled open in The Hague. Proceedings will commence with opening statements from the parties.

January 16, 2017

Presentation of the prosecution’s evidence begins.