The Legal representatives of victims in the Dominic Ongwen presented the views of 1434 victims granted status to participate in the proceedings on Monday.
Francisco Cox and Joseph Manoba note that the victims are former residents of the Odek, Lukodi and Abok IDP camps. Others are from other geographical areas, but suffered harm from one of the “thematic” crimes included in the Document Containing the Charges – namely persecution, Sexual and Gender based Violence and Conscription or use of Children to engage in hostilities.
Manoba, detailed the victims’ experience of the crimes which are alleged in the case, and with a particular focus on the harm they suffered a result. He explained the various forms of harm suffered, and how it has continued to affect individuals and communities since the attacks. He focused on the physical, economic and psychological impact of the crimes, which is sometimes overlooked, but which has left many victims impoverished even right up to the present day.
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Cox explained the victims’ views on specific issues relating to the charges in this case. It was explained that although Dominic Ongwen’s own recruitment as a child soldier is recognized and understood by the victims, this cannot excuse his later conduct in committing many horrific crimes. Victims have drawn attention to the fact that many of them managed to escape abduction. Instead of doing the same, Ongwen profited from his crimes to rise through the LRA ranks. Appreciation was also given to the prosecutor’s broadening of the charges, and of the fact that the case now extends beyond crimes committed in Acholi land, allowing a wide participation of victims who suffered crimes at the hands of Dominic Ongwen’s Sinia Brigade.
He concluded the victims’ submissions by presenting to the Court what the victims hope for from these proceedings. Although reparations cannot be considered until after a conviction, he drew the Court’s attention to the victims’ hopes for reparations, as well as their desire for the truth to be told and Dominic Ongwen to be held accountable.
The Office of Public Counsel for Victims also represents 592 victims who have not appointed their legal representative.
Dominic Ongwen was the alleged Brigade Commander of the Sinia Brigade of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). On 8 July 2005, ICC Judges issued an arrest warrant against Mr Ongwen for 3 counts of crimes against humanity (murder; enslavement; inhumane acts of inflicting serious bodily injury and suffering) and 4 counts of war crimes (murder; cruel treatment of civilians; intentionally directing an attack against a civilian population; pillaging) allegedly committed on or about 20 May 2004 at the Lukodi IDP Camp in the Gulu District. On 16 January 2015, Dominic Ongwen was surrendered to the ICC’s custody and transferred to the ICC Detention Centre on 21 January 2015. His initial appearance before the Court took place on 26 January 2015. The hearing of the confirmation of charges started on 21 January 2016.