Justice and Accountability

Ending Grand Theft on a Global Scale: Prosecuting the War Crime of Pillage

M23 rebel fighters north of Goma, DRC (2012) AP Photo/Jerome Delay

In Enough Project Policy Analyst Holly Dranginis’ latest report, Grand Theft Global: Prosecuting the War Crime of Natural Resource Pillage in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Dranginis provides an inside look at why the widespread theft of minerals in Congo has gone on unpunished, and how policymakers and legal practitioners can help advance cases.  Grand Theft Global is the result of research in Congo, The Hague, and Washington, DC, including dozens of interviews with Congolese attorneys, international prosecutors, and local communities affected by pillage and the violence it enables.   Read More »

Top LRA Commander’s Transfer to ICC “Historic”, “Victory for Victims” says Enough Project

Date: 
Jan 13, 2015
Author: 
Enough Team

January 13, 2015 --- Dominic Ongwen, one of the most senior commanders of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), will be transferred to the International Criminal Court (ICC), according to the U.S. State Department. Enough Project analysts are available for interviews, background on Ongwen, and expert commentary on the LRA and significance of the ICC referral in this case.

Kasper Agger, Enough Project LRA expert and Uganda-based field researcher, said: “The transfer of Dominic Ongwen to the ICC is a major victory for the thousands of LRA victims and a chance for Ongwen to go through a fair trial. Hopefully this can draw attention to massive rebuilding tasks in LRA affected areas, including the need for a comprehensive reconciliation and transitional justice process in Northern Uganda.”

Holly Dranginis, Enough Project Policy Analyst, said: “Ongwen's transfer to the ICC is  historic - a victory for the victims of the LRA's brutality, many of whom have been bravely demanding justice for over a decade now. It's also a welcome confirmation that the United States is increasingly supportive of the ICC's efforts in this region. The next step is for Ongwen to have a fair and thorough trial, with full consideration of crimes committed against him as a child, and robust protection for victims and witnesses.”

Abducted by the LRA at the age of 10, Ongwen rose in the ranks of the militia as a protégé of LRA leader Joseph Kony, and has been indicted by the ICC for multiple crimes against humanity including murder, pillaging, and enslavement.

More information:

  • Enough Project statement on ICC referral in the Ongwen case: http://eno.ug/1sf99WO
  • More background, expert commentary, and recent media coverage on the Ongwen case: http://eno.ug/1x5IkQr
  • Interview with Kasper Agger - From the Bloody Trail of Kony’s LRA (December 24, 2014): http://eno.ug/1CVSRD6
  • Briefing report on LRA illicit funding - Kony to LRA: “Bring me ivory, gold, and diamonds” (November 19, 2014): http://eno.ug/1uZL7OE

For media inquiries or interview requests, please contact: Greg Hittelman,  +1 310-717-

0606, gh@enoughproject.org

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The Enough Project is a project of the Center for American Progress aiming to end genocide and crimes against humanity. Founded in 2007, Enough focuses on the crises in Sudan, South Sudan, eastern Congo, Central African Republic, and areas affected by the Lord’s Resistance Army. Enough conducts intensive field research, develops practical policies to address these crises, and shares sensible tools to empower citizens and groups working for change. To learn more: www.enoughproject.org.

LRA commander Ongwen should be transferred to ICC, support to justice & reconciliation in LRA-affected areas should be increased

Senior Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) commander Dominic Ongwen, who surrendered Tuesday in the Central African Republic, should be transferred to the International Criminal Court to face charges of crimes against humanity and war crimes.  Read More »

LRA Commander Ongwen Should Be Transferred to ICC

Date: 
Jan 9, 2015
Author: 
Enough Team

Support to Justice and Reconciliation in LRA-affected Areas Should Be Increased

January 9, 2015 --- This week, Dominic Ongwen, one of the most senior commanders of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), surrendered to U.S. forces in the Central African Republic. Ongwen's defection is strong evidence that the African Union mission against the LRA is working, slowly but surely. It also triggers a critical opportunity for justice. 

Statement by the Enough Project:

Senior Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) commander Dominic Ongwen, who surrendered Tuesday in the Central African Republic, should be transferred to the International Criminal Court to face charges of crimes against humanity and war crimes.

Ongwen was indicted by the ICC in 2005 after Ugandan President Museveni requested an ICC investigation into potential atrocity crimes by the LRA in Northern Uganda. Now with Ongwen's surrender, some are calling for him to face trial or receive amnesty in Uganda. The ICC's complementarity principle is critical in this scenario. Ongwen should be transferred to The Hague, where Uganda is free to challenge the admissibility of the case, prompting the ICC to examine whether or not Uganda is willing and able to carry out an independent, thorough and fair investigation and trial related to Ongwen's charges.

Ugandan human rights voices reflect a diversity of views on this issue. Victor Ochen, founding director of local human rights organization, African Youth Initiative Network, and survivor of LRA violence, said, "Generally, it’s quite obvious that people need justice. At this point, whose justice? For the rebel or for the victims of Ongwen's barbaric acts?"

Some religious and political leaders from northern Uganda have expressed that Ongwen should receive amnesty. Uganda’s Amnesty Act has been an important tool to help spur defections from the LRA. Amnesty is likely not appropriate, however, for high-level individuals charged with grave war crimes and crimes against humanity. Prosecuting Ongwen is not mutually exclusive to a range of critical transitional justice mechanisms that are sorely needed for victims in Northern Uganda. But victims also deserve to see justice served.

It is important to recognize that Ongwen was abducted as a child soldier at age 10, and thus is both a victim and alleged perpetrator, raising potential mitigating circumstances. As with any indictee facing charges, Ongwen should be afforded a fair trial with thorough consideration of any potential mitigating circumstances.

At present, it is important for Ongwen to provide any information he may have on LRA leader Joseph Kony’s whereabouts and to help provide defection messages to current LRA fighters. The LRA is still active, so such information and messaging is critically important. Visits by his family members could form an important part of this defection messaging.

Finally, for sustainable peace to take root, greater support to a local justice and reconciliation process in northern Uganda is needed.  The Ugandan army is accused of committing atrocities in northern Uganda, yet these allegations have yet to prompt adequate investigation.  Uganda and donor governments must also prioritize support for victims and war-affected committees in northern Uganda and other LRA affected areas.

Link to January 6 press release on surrender of Ongwenwww.enoughproject.org/news/breaking-lra-top-commander-surrenders

Media inquiries: Enough Project analysts are available for interviews, background on Ongwen, and expert commentary. Contact: Greg Hittelman,  +1 310-717-0606gh@enoughproject.org

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The Enough Project is a project of the Center for American Progress aiming to end genocide and crimes against humanity. Founded in 2007, Enough focuses on the crises in Sudan, South Sudan, eastern Congo, Central African Republic, and areas affected by the Lord’s Resistance Army. Enough conducts intensive field research, develops practical policies to address these crises, and shares sensible tools to empower citizens and groups working for change. To learn more: www.enoughproject.org.

A Moment for Momentum: The Surrender of Dominic Ongwen

Dominic Ongwen, in a photograph from 2006

Read what Enough's experts are saying about the surrender of top LRA commander Dominic Ongwen, the backstory of the fighter known as "The White Ant," and news coverage from outlets ranging from The New York Times to Vice News.  Read More »

Fighting Impunity: The Role of Sanctions in Ending Conflict in Congo

The plight of women and children in eastern Congo has not received the urgent response it needs, which has facilitated widespread impunity. This culture of impunity allows perpetrators to continue their violations against vulnerable civilians. Sanctions on such perpetrators help combat the culture of impunity by holding the guilty accountable, allowing the survivors and their communities the opportunity to move forward and sending a clear message that violence against women and children will not be tolerated.  Read More »

CNN Op-Ed: At the UN, Janjaweed is a Dirty Word

Ten years ago this week, then-Secretary of State Colin Powell declared that genocide had been committed in Darfur and that the government of Sudan and the janjaweed bore responsibility for those acts. Even though it did not actually trigger a legal obligation to act, many hoped that using the "g word" meant that the United States was crossing the Rubicon and committing itself to stopping the violence in Darfur, Sudan's most troubled region. The janjaweed, however, are still at large in Darfur -- and with the Sudanese government's help, they are now arguably more powerful than ever.  Read More »

Jewelry Leaders and CEOs Join Enough Project in Conflict Gold Solutions Forum

On July 27, 2014, The Enough Project participated in roundtable discussion at the Jewelers of America (JA) New York Show, co-hosted by JA and the National Retail Federation (NRF), to discuss the need for responsible gold sourcing from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Currently, the illegal mining and trade of minerals, particularly gold, fuel terrible violence and suffering for the Congolese people. The discussion centered on industry experiences and practical tools to build on current corporate initiatives for responsible sourcing and development in Congo and the Great Lakes Region.  Read More »

A Doctor's View from a Foxhole in Sudan

The aftermath of the bombing, Photo by author

I'm a doctor, not a writer. But the situation I witnessed while volunteering in the Nuba Mountains of Sudan compels me to write and tell the story of what is happening there. Since 2011, the only hospital in the entire Nuba Mountains region, Mother of Mercy in Gidel, had been spared bombardment – until last month.   Read More »

Daily Beast Op-Ed: Obama's Africa Summit and the New Danger in Congo

weapons_DRC_UN_Congo
The U.S. and the U.N. have an opportunity to prevent further bloodshed in Central Africa, if they’re prepared to take certain steps to do so.
 

 
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