January 15, 2015

LRA survivors Want Ugandan Courts to Try Ongwen

Survivors of the Lord’s Resistant Army insurgency in Barlonyo, Lira district are demanding that the captured LRA commander Dominic Ongwen be tried in Ugandan courts and not the International Criminal Court.

Dominic Ongwen
Dominic Ongwen

Barlonyo, the former IDP camp witnessed one of the deadliest attacks at the height of the LRA rebellion in 2004 claiming over 200 lives.

Now survivors of the gruesome incident argue that charging the fearless warrior before the international criminal court will not give them an opportunity to witness the historical prosecution.

Their demand comes just a day after the Ugandan government announced Ongwen will be presented to the ICC in The Hague by authorities of the Central African Republic, for trial.

The ICC indicted Ongwen 10 years ago alongside four other leaders of the Lord’s Resistance Army for crimes against humanity and war crimes. He is charged with criminal responsibility for crimes committed in northern Uganda in 2004.

These include three counts of crimes against humanity (murder, enslavement, and 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).

Patrick Odongo, The Barlonyo memorial site village chairman says there is no need to take Ongwen to The Hague for trial.  He is pessimistic that victims of the atrocities will be able to get justice from a foreign court system.

Alice Awor, one of the survivors of the Barlonyo attack says Ongwen’s capture has restored hope for justice amongst the survivors.

George Odongo, another survivor who lost three children during the attack on Barlonyo IDP camp says government should also speed up processes for trying prisoners of war like former LRA rebel commander Col. Thomas Kwoyelo, captured from DRC in 2009.

Lestina Alele, 60 another survivor who six children were killed during the raid says Ongwen should be given chance to apologize to his victims.

She says even if all LRA rebel commanders including Joseph Kony are killed, the lives lost during the war can never be return.

However, Richard Okeng 35, a father of four welcomes the ICC trial saying the move will deliver justice to all victims.

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