On 27 February 2015, the Prosecutor for the International Criminal Court (ICC), Fatou Bensouda, visited Uganda to engage with communities affected by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) war, civil society working in human rights as well as government representatives. During her time in Uganda, Ms. Bensouda visited Lukodi – the site of the LRA massacre, for which former commander Dominic Ongwen is charged with leading – for the first time to pay her respects and listen to the concerns of community members.
During her visit with civil society, including JRP , was presented to her. Below is an extract of that statement:
Prosecutor to move beyond proving Ongwen’s guilty but take a deep look into the entire Northern Uganda Situation and take into account the circumstances that led Ongwen into LRA insurgency as an important factors for the trial, including examination of the different layers of responsibilities, by the state such as the responsibility to protect.
Court processes should promote a broader pursuit of justice and reconciliation in northern Uganda and LRA affected communities.
The ICC prosecutor should expand investigation to include other parties who committed crimes in the context of the LRA war including state actors and international sponsors
Propose/recommend a live broadcasts of all court proceedings in northern Uganda to inform affected communities of ongoing court processes
Urge proper translation of all court proceedings to Ongwen with appropriate dialects-preferable Lamogi/Patiko and with a legal background. Office of Prosecutor and Registry to source a competent translator with above qualifications.
Witness protection be availed to both prosecution and defence team on a sustainable basis to avoid a repeat of the Kenyan experience.
ICC should be cautious in its relationship with the state-(Gov’t of Uganda) to avoid perception of Gov’t influence and biasness
Court to keep open its investigation into the N.Uganda situation including the situation of forced encampment and GBV in northern Uganda.
Ensure effective victims participation from LRA affected communities targeting real victims not necessarily those who speak for other victims.
Demand an Insitu (local court sitting) court proceedings in Gulu, northern Uganda at some stage of the trial to engage victims groups
Court to facilitate regular visits to Ongwen during his detention at The Hague including by CSOs and family members to assess welfare and report to the communities as confidence building.
Prosecutor/Court to pronounce herself about the fate/status of the other suspects including Vincent Otti, Okot Odiambo whether they are alive or dead.
Both parties to the LRA conflicts should be made to account and the court should expand its investigation beyond northern Uganda.
Court to make a determination on what should happen to crimes committed in northern Uganda before ICC jurisdiction and use its trial to complement comprehensive transitional justice measures in LRA affected areas.
CSOs strongly recommend appropriate reparations to all victims of LRA insurgency in the affected areas and immediate measures to address potential inter-communal fall outs from the ongoing Ongwen’s prosecution
Other updates in the Ongwen trial:
– Confirmation of charges hearing postponed to January 2016
– Representative of Dominic Ongwen selected: Kripus Ayena Odongo
– Decision on the application process of victims set, 4 March