Victims want ongwen tried for crimes in Central African Republic
Bangui, February 25, 2015 (FH) – Victims of the Lord’s Resistance Army in the Central African Republic are urging the International Criminal Court to include crimes committed in their country in its case against former LRA commander Dominic Ongwen.
The LRA committed serious crimes in the CAR as well as in Ongwen’s home country of Uganda. Ongwen has been in ICC detention since last month, but his case concerns only crimes committed in Uganda before 2005. His confirmation of charges hearing is scheduled for August 24.
In a statement published February 18, the Association of LRA Victims in the Central African Republic, a local NGO well-known in Bangui, called for Ongwen’s case to be extended to crimes committed in the CAR between 2008 and 2014.
“The rebels of the LRA, headed by Joseph Kony and Dominic Ongwen, arrived in 2008 in Obo (eastern CAR) and have carried out many atrocities,” says the organization. “We are surprised to learn that Ongwen is only being prosecuted for crimes committed in Uganda between 2002 and 2005.” If there is no action on this by the ICC, it calls on Central African courts to take up the case and to issue an arrest warrant for the Ugandan rebel leader.
The LRA was created around 1987 and operated in northern Uganda, where it carried out many atrocities, kidnapping children and using them as soldiers and slaves, massacring and mutilating civilians. It was chased out of the country by the Ugandan army from 2006, taking to the equatorial forests of neighbouring countries including the Central African Republic.
Acording to the UN, the LRA has since its creation killed more than 100,000 people in central Africa and kidnapped more than 60,000 children.
In December 2003, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni referred the LRA situation to the International Criminal Court. In July 2004, the ICC Prosecutor announced the opening of an investigation into the situation in northern Uganda. In 2005, the ICC issued under seal arrest warrants for crimes against humanity against the five main LRA leaders at that time: Joseph Kony, Vincent Otti, Okot Odhiambo, Raska Lukwiya and Dominic Ongwen. The warrants were unsealed in October 2005. Lukwiya was killed in 2006 and Otti at the end of 2007. Odhiambo was killed in recent fighting with the Ugandan army in the CAR, according to Kampala.
The ICC Prosecutor wants Ongwen tried for 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).