ICC Seeks Additional Information from Victims Of Ongwen’s Crimes

The Trial Chamber at the International Criminal Court (ICC) is seeking additional information from victims of former Lord’s Resistance Army-LRA rebel commander Dominic Ongwen in a build-up to the reparation processes.

The Presiding Judge Bertram Schmitt last week instructed the Court’s registry to conduct a random sample extraction of additional information from a total of 205 victims in the five case locations in Northern Uganda.

The instruction came a day after the Appeals Chamber confirmed the conviction and 25-year sentencing of Ongwen last week for war crimes and crimes against humanity. Ongwen committed the crimes in Northern Uganda between July 1 2002 and December 31, 2005.

In a December 16 document seen by Uganda Radio Network, the judge directed that the sample should constitute 92 victims from the Pajule Internally Displaced People’s Camp (IDP), and 24 victims from the Odek IDP camp in Omoro District.

Meanwhile, 18 victims will participate from the Lukodi IDP camp in Gulu District, 40 victims from the Abok IDP camp in Oyam District, and 31 victims from the thematic crimes. 

The victims are a five percent representation of the 4,096 that participated in the trial of Ongwen which commenced in December 2016.

Maria Mabinty Kamara, the ICC Outreach Officer for Uganda, told URN in an interview Tuesday that the additional information will help determine the type and modalities of reparations the judges could decide upon.

She also notes that the information will help in assessing the amount of Ongwen’s liability following the verdict on his appeal. 

“They (The trial chamber) need a representative sample on the type of harm, the extent of harm (how it has impacted their lives and plan of life), and the causal link between the harm suffered and the crimes committed by Ongwen,” She says. 

Kamara however says the additional information won’t determine the number of victims that would receive reparations arguing that the numbers will be looked into at the implementation phase, once the type of reparations is known.

She also notes that the registration of victims to get reparation has not yet kicked off pending the issuance of a reparations order by the trial chamber Judges.

A reparations order refers to the formal decision by the Court making an award for the harm victims have suffered.

“We don’t know how reparations would be until the judges issue an order for reparations. For that reason, there is no registration currently ongoing,” She said.

The confirmation of the conviction and 25-year sentencing of Ongwen by the appeals chamber last week excited LRA victims who had long waited for justice.

However, the majority are unsure what awaits them and have now called on the ICC to expedite the processes of reparation.

Nelson Obira, a victim of the LRA in Abok IDP camp however says he is yet unsure what the ICC will give him as reparation considering that he lost only one goat during the attack. 

William Acol, a Human Rights Activist in Lango Sub-region however believes the reparation program might not be timely for some of the victims of Ongwen who have since died owing to the delayed processes.

The trial chamber judge has also invited the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP), the Registry, and the Trust Fund for Victims (TFV) to make any additional submissions, within sixty days from the notification of the present Decision on the estimated total number of potential beneficiaries of reparations.

The ICC registry estimates a total of 66,700 victims in the five case locations to be potential beneficiaries of reparations.

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