ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda lays a wreath in Lukodi village, in Gulu district northern Uganda, dedicated to victims of the Lord’s Resistance Army, Feb. 28, 2015. (Reuters)
More than 1400 victims of the Lord’s Resistance Army and UPDF ask the International Criminal Court to confirm charges against Dominic Ongwen so that a fair trial can be held in which the victims’ voices will be heard and justice can be served.
Through their Legal Representatives, Francisco Cox and Joseph Manoba, they say the victims have waited for ten years to see justice.
“The victims participating in this case have expressed the fact that they have waited 10 long years for justice and many had lost all hope for accountability for the crimes that had been callously inflicted upon them,” according to a Pre-confirmation brief submitted on behalf of the 1434 participating victims represented by the Legal Representatives.
The brief is based on views collected from victims obtained through consultations undertaken in three districts in northern Uganda and the views of the victims support the Prosecution assertions that Dominic Ongwen committed war crimes and crimes against humanity in Abok IDP Camp, Lukodi IDP Camp, and Odek IDP Camp as well as persecution, crimes of sexual violence and crimes involving the use of child soldiers over a wider area.
According to some victims:
“Victim a/06501/15 stated that the LRA fighters under Dominic Ongwen were very brutal and wants the Court to confirm the charges against him so he can be punished for the crimes he perpetrated on civilians;
Victim a/05905/15 states that on the day of the Lukodi attack, LRA rebels came to her home and took her son by using force and threats, and asked him to show them where the other boys were hiding, which he did leading to the abduction of the other boys. Her co-wife and community members accuse her of supporting the rebels to abduct their children. She holds Dominic Ongwen responsible and wants the charges against him confirmed so he can be punished for the harm that she has suffered.”
However much more than reparations the victims speak of truth and justice and the role of the ICC and participating victims in achieving these things. For example, victims explained that they want to participate for these reasons:
- “For my voice to be heard and justice to be done” (a/07101/15)
- “For the truth to be found out” (a/07100/15)
- [The ICC process] is important because it helps us the victims to access the truth of situations and the pains we went through.” (a/7089/15)
- “I am seeking justice, I need ICC to make sure our voice are heard. I went through a lot of suffering that I cannot forget.” (a/07056/15)
- Read: Victims’ Pre-Confirmation Brief
Chrispus Ayena Odongo, Dominic Ongwen’s Defense Counsel says the charges against his client should all be dropped against his client at the pre- trial phase.
The ICC says it has since dropped Okot Odhiambo and Raska Lukwiya off its list following their death in battle with Uganda People’s Defense Forces.
The Confirmation of Charges hearing for Ongwen is set to begin on 21 January.