ICC Registrar Reassures on Victims’ Participation, Protection During Ongwen Trial

The Registrar of the International Criminal Court (ICC) Herman von Hebel has made assurance that the victims of the crimes allegedly committed by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) will fully participate in the course of the trial of former LRA Brigade commander, approved Dominic Ongwen.

Hebel said this during a news conference, see a day after he arrived in Uganda to engage relevant parties and coordination of victims ahead of the trial that starts Tuesday December 6 in the Hague, sick Netherlands.

According to the Registrar, over 4,000 victims will participate in the trial but through legal representation of two teams of lawyers. One group (2,600 victims) will be represented by Joseph Akwenyu and Fransisco Cox while the other group (1,500) will be represented by Paolina Massidda and Jane Adong.

“This trial is historic and it is about accountability especially for the victims. It is important that their voices be heard in the courtroom. They will as well be given opportunity to ask questions to the witnesses,” Hebel told the press at Hotel Africana on Monday.

“Over 4,000 victims have been granted the right to participate in the proceedings and are represented by two teams of lawyers. Our mandate as the registry is to organize them (victims) and determine who participates as well as to offer them protection,” he added.

He said that ICC will work with local security organs in regard to ensuring the safety of the witnesses and that in some cases “we can choose to move them away from their localities to elsewhere in the country or even outside Uganda”.

Through the trial, Hebel said, several outreach programs to the affected communities will be made so as to ease locals’ access to information on the proceedings.

The ICC Registry has so far made 112 interactive face to face outreach sessions with potential victims and affected communities since January. In addition, viewing sites were set up in 9 locations across Northern Uganda for the confirmation of charges hearing in January.

This time, similar sites have been opened in Lukodi, Odek, Abok, Pajule, Gulu and Coorom all locations where Dominic Ongwen allegedly committed crimes to view the opening of the trial on Tuesday December 6.

“By the end of this trial, in the event that Ongwen happens to be guilty, we might have reparations as is usually the case. An accused person is supposed to pay for damages caused to victims. If he is not able to, we shall solicit contributions from ICC state parties,” Hebel said.

Dominic Ongwen is in ICC custody after being charged with 70 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity pursuant to Articles 25(3), and 28 (a) of the Rome Statute to which Uganda ratified in 2002.


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