Sunday, January 25, 2015

Lord’s Resistance Army Commander Dominic Ongwen is Transferred to the International Criminal Court for Prosecution on Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes in Uganda

International Criminal CourtFollowing his surrender on January 6, 2015, Senior Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) commander Dominic Ongwen has been transferred to the International Criminal Court (ICC).  In 2005, 6he ICC had issued a warrant for his arrest for war crimes committed in Uganda. 

Mr. Ongwen is being brought to the ICC detention centre in the Netherlands. Upon arrival, Mr. Ongwen will receive a medical visit and will appear with defense counsel before the court.

In a statement released by the U.N. Secretary-General’s spokesperson, Mr. Ban highlighted that Mr. Ongwen's transfer to the ICC marks an ‘important milestone in accountability,’ with the first LRA commander being brought before the Court.  “It is a step forward in efforts to bring justice to the thousands of victims of LRA violence in Uganda, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and CAR [Central African Republic] over the past 28 years,” the UN chief said.

The Secretary-General welcomed the cooperation among the Governments of the Central African Republic, Uganda, the United States, Belgium, and the Netherlands, and the support provided by the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA), the African Union Regional Task Force (AU-RTF), and the ICC in facilitating the expeditious transfer of Mr. Ongwen to The Hague.

Mr. Ban also paid tribute to the efforts of the AU-RTF and urged all troop-contributing countries of the region to remain committed to ending the threat posed by the LRA and bringing to justice LRA leader Joseph Kony. He called on the LRA to immediately disarm.

Mr. Ongwen, who was transferred to ICC custody on January 17, 2015, was the alleged Commander of the LRA's Sinia Brigade. On July 8, 2005, ICC Judges issued an arrest warrant against Mr. Ongwen for these crimes:

  • three counts of crimes against humanity (murder; enslavement; inhumane acts of inflicting serious bodily injury and suffering), and
  • four counts of war crimes (murder; cruel treatment of civilians; intentionally directing an attack against a civilian population; pillaging)

allegedly committed in 2004 within the context of the situation in Uganda.

He is part of a case that is also filed against Joseph Kony, Vincent Otti and Okot Odhiambo.

During the initial appearance hearing, the Judges of Pre-Trial Chamber II will verify the identity of the suspect and the language in which he can follow the proceedings. Mr Ongwen will be informed of the charges against him. The Judges will also schedule a date for the opening of the confirmation of charges hearing, a preliminary step to decide whether the case will be referred to a trial or not.

In a statement from ICC, the President of the Assembly of States Parties (ASP) to the Court’s founding Rome Statute, Minister Sidiki Kab, said that Mr. Ongwen’s transfer to the custody of the Court constituted an important success for the Rome Statute system.

“The affected communities will have the opportunity to see international justice address the horrific violence that took place in Uganda. I join the Court in its appreciation to all those States and organizations whose cooperation made possible the successful implementation of the Court's decisions,” Mr. Kaba emphasized.

(mew) (adapted from a UN press release; Photo: ICC-CPI/Max Koot courtesy of the United Nations)

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