Uganda: NPWJ welcomes transfer of Dominic Ongwen to the ICC and calls for heightened efforts to enforce all other outstanding arrest warrants

Brussels – Rome – New York, 26 January 2015

 
Today Dominic Ongwen made his first appearance before the single Judge of Pre-Trial Chamber II of the International Criminal Court (ICC), at The Hague. Dominic Ongwen was transferred to the ICC on 20 January 2015 following his surrender to US military stationed in Central African Republic earlier this month.
Dominic Ongwen was a senior commander in the rebel movement, Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), and deputy commander to LRA chief, Joseph Kony. Following the referral in 2004 by Uganda of the situation in its territory, the ICC issued an arrest warrant against Mr Ongwen in 2005, including 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 and pillaging.
 
Statement by Alison Smith, Legal Counsel and International Criminal Justice Director of No Peace Without Justice:  
 
“No Peace Without Justice (NPWJ) and the Nonviolent Radical Party, Transnational and Transparty (NRPTT) welcome the transfer of Dominic Ongwen to the International Criminal Court (ICC), as an important step towards accountability for thousands of victims of the most atrocious crimes committed by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in Uganda.
 
“This outcome is also the result of a successful cooperation between Uganda, the United States, the Central African Republic, Belgium, the African Union and the ICC which is to be praised. The warrants for arrest issued by the ICC represent a call to members of the international community to take action. Justice depends upon the arrests of these individuals – and the collaboration of individual State actors toward this end. NPWJ and NRPTT therefore urge all States to take all adequate actions to secure the arrest of the other LRA leaders still at large, Joseph Kony and Okot Odhiambo, as well as all other ICC fugitives so that they may be brought to justice.
 
“We hope that these proceedings will contribute to weakening the LRA which is still active in Northern Uganda, the North-eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan and Central African Republic (CAR) and put an end to the atrocities committed by the LRA in Africa. This is also an opportunity for the ICC, as well as the international community as a whole, to re-commit to the victims of the LRA conflict, not only in Uganda but also in the other affected countries. The Government of Uganda should also move forward in truth and accountability policy, through the International Crimes Division of the High Court of Uganda and other mechanisms aimed at fulfilling the principle of complementarity stipulated in the preamble and Article 1 of the Rome Statute.
 
“Finally, NPWJ and the NRPTT call on the ICC to take immediate steps to implement an effective and sustained outreach strategy in Uganda. This is of the utmost importance to promote understanding of the legal proceedings and to fully address expectations, needs and priorities of affected communities and the population as a whole. The ICC must also ensure enhanced victims participation, with a special focus on women and children, to help the Court fulfil the greatest part of its role: delivering a sense of justice and accountability to victims of crimes it investigates and prosecutes.”
 
 
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For further information, please contact Alison Smith (Legal Counsel and Director of the International Criminal Justice Program) on asmith@npwj.org, or Nicola Giovannini (Press & Public Affairs Coordinator) on ngiovannini@npwj.org or +32-2-548-3915.