Ongwen Trial Will Be Expeditious - ICC President

2350 Views Gulu, Uganda

In short
The president of the International Criminal Court, Judge Silvia Fernandez de Gurmendi, today met victims of the LRA conflict at Lukodi trading centre in Gulu district. Lukodi is the site of the May 19th, 2004 LRA massacre in which the rebels attacked a camp for internally displaced people and killed at least 56 of them.

The International Criminal Court is committed to delivering expeditious and fair trial in the prosecution of former Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) commander Dominic Ongwen.
The president of the court, Judge Silvia Fernandez de Gurmendi, said this today while meeting victims of the conflict at Lukodi trading centre in Gulu district. Lukodi is the site of the May 19th, 2004 LRA massacre in which the rebels attacked a camp for internally displaced people and killed at least 56 of them.
"Violence is unacceptable and those who commit acts of violence must be prosecuted. This is why the ICC was created to try perpetrators of serious crimes of war, genocide and crimes against humanity," she stated.
Her visit to Lukodi coincides with the resumption of the trial of Dominic Ongwen today after two weeks of break. Lukodi is one of the four case locations where Ongwen, the alleged commander of the Sinia Brigade is accused of masterminding atrocities against civilians.
Survivors of the conflict expressed fear that breaks and too many processes will unnecessarily delay the trial of Dominic Ongwen.
Judge Fernandez concurred with the victims saying "the trial is likely to take long because all sides must be heard and heard fairly".  

She noted that prosecution has lined up many witnesses who must first testify against Dominic Ongwen before the defence is given chance to call its own witnesses.
According to Judge Fernandez, the victims of the conflict should not give up on justice since it also took a long time for Ongwen to be surrendered to the Court.
"The trial will be done expeditiously so that justice is accorded to the victims who have already waited for a long time," she stressed.
Gibson Okullu, a member of Lukodi Massacre Survivors and Victims Association said "delaying the trial will be the greatest injustice served to the victims of the massacre and the war".
He said all they have left after the May 19th, 2004 attack are orphans, widows, widowers and trauma and delaying the trial will continue traumatising them further.
The victims also urged the ICC to support them through vocational skills training for their children to attend schools.
The ICC president started her Uganda visit on February 23 to acquaint herself with activities of the Court's Trust Fund for Victims. She is being accompanied by members of the board of the Fund amongst others.
Before visiting Lukodi, Judge Silvia Fernandez visited Awach Sub County in Aswa County where the fund is financing physical rehabilitation, psycho-social counselling and livelihood support of more than 1,400 victims.


About the author

Peter Labeja
Peter Labeja has been a practicing journalist for the last 13 years during which he has covered part of the brutal conflict which bedeviled Northern Uganda as well as the painful transition to Peace thereafter. Emerging post conflict issues such as land rights of under privileged widows and orphans, challenges of access to social services in the immediate aftermath of Lord’s Resistance Army conflict in Northern Uganda.

Labeja is now the Northern Uganda Bureau chief in Acholi Sub Region since 2014 - Gulu, Amuru, Nwoya and Omoro districts as well as South Sudan falls within his areas of jurisdiction. He previously worked with The Vision Group for four years.

Labeja’s major career interests are in Climate Change; Agriculture and Environment - natural resources such as Water, Oil and Gas; Transitional Justice; Human Rights, Democracy and Governance as well as South Sudan’s humanitarian crisis. In 2013, Labeja was awarded a prestigious Pan African Journalism Award for excellence in journalism at United Nation’s UNEP headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya for Climate Change and Health Reporting.