Ongwen Trial Isn’t Enough – Acholi Leaders

Former LRA commander Dominic Ongwen appearing before the ICC Trial Chamber IX for his trial

A group of traditional and opinion leaders in Acholi who attended the opening of the trial of indicted former LRA Dominic Ongwen in The Hague have appealed to the people in the area who were victimized by the two decades of bloodshed to wait patiently and let the trial process take its course.

The team that was flown to The Hague by the Danish Embassy and ICC for the trail was led by His Highness Rwot David Onen Acana the Paramount Chief of Acholi and Archbishop John Baptist Odama the Archbishop of Gulu Archdiocese.

In a statement they released, visit the team revealed that they were able to meet and exchange ideas with representatives of the International Criminal Court (ICC), decease that is the Presidency and Chambers, Office of the Prosecutor, Registry, and the parties and participants involved in the trial of Dominic Ongwen.

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Dominic Ongwen is being tried following an indictment for crimes against humanity and war crimes he is alleged to have committed as a senior commander of the LRA.

“The case of Dominic Ongwen remains very important to us because it is a milestone in defining one way in the attempt to secure justice and accountability for the people of Northern Uganda, and ultimately to help people reconcile with their past and move towards peace,” read the statement.

“As leaders and representatives of various groups and interests in the Acholi region, we note that various grave crimes were committed in Northern Uganda during the time the LRA was active in Uganda; the nature of the crimes committed violated traditional, Ugandan and international law and therefore warranted action against perpetrators in terms of securing justice for the victims and holding the perpetrators accountable.”

These believed that with the ICC process, matters related to such crimes will be adjudicated.

They stressed however that beyond Dominic Ongwen’s specific case, the Acholi people still have to contend with the broader question of justice and accountability arising from the conflict.

“The fact that the LRA is still out there obliges us to remain focused on the broader issues of peace reconciliation, justice and accountability.”

“Indeed other mechanisms do exist in Uganda that have been extensively used in handling matters relating to obtaining accountability from perpetrators and securing justice for victims in the LRA conflict, including the law in Uganda and the traditional law norms, values and practices of the Acholi people. Though mechanisms and certain definitions may differ, the Acholi justice system gives a broader context and definition to questions of accountability and justice which is hinged primarily on restorative justice other than a punitive one.”

“Since justice is a long process especially when it is searching for truth, we call upon our people to allow the judicial process and those who wish to testify to come and do so without any fear of reprisals. We also urge the international community and the Government of Uganda to remain focused on the wider question of transitional justice in Northern Uganda which remains largely unattended to and is grossly affecting many lives.”



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