ICC dismisses victims submission in Dominic Ongwen case


Dominic Ongwen


The Hague-based International Criminal Court (ICC) has thrown out an application by Uganda Victims Foundation to submit additional information to pin down Dominic Ongwen, a top former commander of the rebel Lord’s Resistance Army.

Uganda Victims Foundation is a national coalition of Non-Governmental Organizations and Community Based Organizations based in Uganda working to promote the rights of victims of gross violations of international human rights law and serious violations of international humanitarian law.

Last month, led by its national coordinator Chris Ongom, it petitioned ICC to allow it submit information with strong bearings in the case against Dominic Ongwen in accordance with Rule 103 of the Rules of the Court and relevant provisions of the Rome Statute.

Ongwen faces four counts of War Crimes and three counts of crimes against humanity he is alleged to have committed between 2002 and 2004 during the course of Lord’s Resistance Army rebellion where he served as senior commander.

The Foundation urged court to consider its application citing the narrowness of the scope of the case brought against Ongwen. It argued that preferring charges against Ongwen for atrocities he committed in Lukodi Village in Gulu district in 2004 only is far too narrow and does not represent the totality of the crimes suffered by the victims during those particular series of attacks.

It therefore sought leave of court to allow it submit views and concerns of other victims in Lango and Teso regions to allow them participate in proceedings and benefit from potential reparation awards, once Ongwen is convicted.

“The Applicant has already been in touch with victims who fear that only victims from Acholi (Lukodi) region will be able to participate in proceedings and benefit from potential reparations awards to the detriment of the hundreds of other victims who will remain without any form of redress or justice”, the application states.

Furthermore, Uganda Victims Foundation asserts that Dominic Ongwen allegedly committed several crimes in many parts of Northern Uganda, which have not been included in the case and victims are eager to speak with the Office of the Prosecutor in order to furnish them with further information on attacks including those that occurred in regions such as Lango and Teso.

In his April 19th ruling, Justice Cuno Tarfusser of the Pre-Trial Chamber II, stated that “issues raised by the applicant are not live issues in the case and the observations proposed are not “desirable for the proper determination of the case” within the meaning of rule 103(1) of the Rules.
Justice Tarfusser added that “no victims are currently participating in the present case and victims’ applications for participation will be considered, and participatory rights accorded to the victims admitted to participate, in due course.

The said prosecution, including the identification of which crimes to charge, is exclusively in the hands of the Prosecutor. Earlier, the judge scheduled January 21 next year as the date for opening of confirmation of charges against Dominic Ongwen.