Uganda: LRA Commander Dominic Ongwen should promptly be held accountable for crimes against humanity and war crimes

Dominic Ongwen arrived at the ICC detention center in the Hague. FIDH and FHRI welcome this important step towards accountability for thousands of victims of the most atrocious crimes committed by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in Uganda.

"The transfer of Dominic Ongwen to the ICC is a major event. It is a clear signal that while justice may take time, justice prevails", declared our organizations. "Ongwen should now be held accountable for the charges of crimes against humanity and war crimes he has been facing for the last 10 years".

As the Prosecutor reported « For more than a quarter of a century, the LRA under Joseph Kony and his high command, that includes Ongwen, have terrorized the people of Northern Uganda and neighbouring countries. The LRA has reportedly killed tens of thousands and displaced millions of people; terrorized civilians, abducted children and forced them to kill and serve as sex slaves. They have hacked off limbs and horribly disfigured men, women and children. »

« We hope that these proceedings will contribute to weakening the LRA which is still active in Northern Uganda, the Northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan and Central African Republic (CAR) and put an end to the atrocities committed by the LRA in Africa » added our organizations.

Our organizations urge the Office of the Prosecutor to add additionnal charges against Dominic Ongwen to adequately reflect the scope of the crimes committed by the LRA in Uganda and in neighbouring countries, including sexual and gender-based crimes.

Our organizations also urge the Registrar to implement a wide-reaching strategy in Uganda, in order to inform the affected communities and victims about this important step towards justice. Victims of crimes committed by the LRA should also be adequately informed and able to participate in these proceedings.

Background
Ongwen joined the Ugandan rebellion in 1990, as a 10 year old child recruit and became part of the LRA core command structure, playing a central role in massive killings, abduction of children and other international crimes committed by the LRA in Northern Uganda,
On 8 july 2005, the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant against him with 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 Uganda from 2002 to 2004.
On 6 January 2015, Dominic Ongwen surrendered to US military stationed in CAR, fighting against the LRA. Following talks between the US, CAR and Uganda, Ongwen was transferred into the custody of the Ugandan contingent of the African Union Anti - LRA Task Force. He was then transferred to the ICC.
He should now appear before the judges in the presence of a defence lawyer.

Two arrest warrants against leaders of the LRA, Joseph Kony (alleged Commander -in-Chief) and Okot Odhiambo (alleged Deputy Army Commander), are still outstanding.

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