January 8, 2015

UPDF: Only Government Can Decide Ongwen’s Fate

International Human rights agencies want Dominic Ongwen, the deputy commander of the Lord’s Resistance Army handed over to the international Criminal Court.

Dominic Ongwen
Dominic Ongwen

 

Ongwen surrendered to the African Union Taskforce base in Obo in Central African Republic on Wednesday.

Ongwen reportedly walked into the tactical base in Obo with a red stripped shirt, brown trousers and black boots. He surrendered to UPDF at the quarter guard and told them his name before being taken in for questioning by American forces. With him was a file of his documents which he also handed over to the authorities of the camp.

Ongwen is currently being interrogated by UPDF and American investigators as the army finalizes plans to fly him home.

Brigadier Lucky Kidega, the commander of UPDF in Central African Republic told URN that they had ‘handled Ongwen properly’ and will bring him to Ugandan soil soon.

Colonel Paddy Ankunda, the UPDF spokesperson says the army is in advanced stages of flying Ongwen to Uganda for further interrogation and public viewing.

However, International rights bodies want the Ugandan government to send Ongwen to the International Criminal Court, where is indicted for war crimes for trial.

Michelle Kagari, the Deputy Regional Director Amnesty International says in a statement that, the people of northern Uganda have waited almost 10 years for the warrants issued by the ICC against leaders of the Lord’s Resistance Army to be executed.

He says there is need to hold Ongwen to account for the numerous charges of murder, mutilation, forced recruitment of child soldiers and use of sex slaves – crimes he allegedly committed when he was a senior commander of the LRA.

Other organizations like the Invisible children have welcomed the surrender of Ongwen and also called for his immediate transfer to the ICC.

But Ankunda says it is not the role of the army to hand over Ongwen to the ICC. He says the army will keep Ongwen until they have received instructions from Government on how to proceed with him.

The surrender of Ongwen comes amidst increased pressure from the African Union Taskforce have on two occasions decimated camps maintained and commanded by him.

In August 2012, UPDF hit a camp in Djemah where Ongwen had been hiding and killed over 10 soldiers attached to him.

He was left with half a dozen fighters and moved closer to Joseph Kony in Kafia Kingi where he was demoted for over a year before regaining his ranks in the LRA.

Ongwen is famous for stating his intention to kill Kony if the peace negotiations in the North didn’t yield a favorable command post for him in the army.

He is said to be one of LRA’s fierce fighters who was captured while still 10 years of age. He grew up under the guidance of former LRA second in command Late Vincent Otti and was at the rank of Brigadier by 24.

He is one of the few commanders that remained in Uganda even after operation lightening thunder pushed the rebels into Central African Republic and South Sudan.

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