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Uganda:  Millions of Ugandans were glued to their television sets following the pre-trial hearing of former Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) commander, Dominic Ongwen from January 21-26, 2016.


Ongwen made his initial appearance before the International Criminal Court (ICC) on January 26, 2015 on initial seven charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity he committed at Lukodi.


The ICC outreach program made arrangements for victims in Pajule, Odek, Lukodi and Abok, the places where Ongwen allegedly to watch the five day proceedings.



Prosecution had registered seventy charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity including sexual offences against Dominic Ongwen for crimes he allegedly committed at Pajule (10.10.2003), Odek (29.04.2004), Lukodi (19.05.2004) and Abok (08.06.2004). Prosecution wants him committed for trials. It has listed a number of witnesses to testify against Ongwen.


“This is a commander who reports attacks direct to Kony cannot be considered inactive. He had authority to distribute captured girls to Sinia brigade commanders”, prosecution said of Ongwen.

The defense counsel who is representing the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) commander Mr. Dominic Ongwen at the just concluded pre-trials at the Hague, has said that his client had the “devil’s choice” in deciding whether to escape from LRA captivity or not.


Mr. Krispus Ayena Odongo told court at the end of pre-trial on Wednesday, January 27, 2016 that Ongwen had the instinct of self preservation first and protecting the lives of the people in his home village if he escaped.


“In the minds of the suspect, it was clearly imprinted that the risk to him and loved ones was less than on what would have happened if he escaped”. He said.

He said the defense will produce a witness who will testify in court that the LRA had strict code of conduct that if an escapee escapes with a gun, the LRA would go and kill all his relatives and destroy the village completely.


“He had self preservation instinct. The LRA would destroy the villages where one comes from if one escaped with a gun. The risk for Ongwen staying with the rebels was less than if he escaped as his home is well known to the LRA. He had the devil’s choice”. He said.


Mr. Ayena said the government of Uganda had all the “constitutional duty” to protect children like Dominic Ongwen from being abducted and conscripted into a war that he had no interest.


“The government, who had the constitutional duty to protect him, was impotent or unwilling to protect him when he was abducted, kept in captivity for 25 years. He was an innocent boy without the least violence tendency. If he stumbled along the way, it was because of Joseph Kony. He had the “devil’s choice” of either compliance or sudden death”. He said.


He said Ongwen was now suffering double jeopardy by being arrested because he was “stolen” (abducted) in 1987, thirteen years before the Amnesty Law was put in place. He said he would suffer triple jeopardy if he was put on trial.


He said all the sentiments of the despicable atrocities committed in Northern Uganda by those who were involved in the theatre of wars and Ongwen cannot be held criminally liable. He was conscripted into a war that he had no interest.


He described the conflict between LRA and government force as a melodrama and those victims of the conflict must be provided for by way of reparation.


“Victims had no role in the melodrama in the conflicts that was going on between the LRA and government forces. Victims must be provided for. This is a truism that cannot be denied. The world cannot shut its eyes from this”. He said.



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