Dominic Ongwen was Powerful LRA Commander, Protégé of Joseph Kony
Abducted as Child Soldier at Age of Ten, Rose in Ranks, Indicted by ICC for War Crimes
January 5, 2015 — Dominic Ongwen, one of the most senior commanders of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) next to Joseph Kony, has reportedly surrendered to U.S. forces in the Central African Republic today, according to the US State Department. The Enough Project has also received early confirmation of the defection from multiple sources inside the Counter-LRA Mission of the Joint African Union Regional Task Force.
Abducted by the LRA at the age of 10, Ongwen has risen in the ranks of the militia, and has been indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for multiple crimes against humanity including murder, pillaging, and enslavement.
Enough Project analysts are available today for interviews, background on Ongwen, and expert commentary on the LRA. Contact: Greg Hittelman, firstname.lastname@example.org
Kasper Agger, Enough Project LRA expert and Uganda-based field researcher, said: “The surrender of Ongwen is a major blow to the LRA. Ongwen has been one of Joseph Kony’s top proteges, rising in the ranks since 1990, when he was abducted as a child soldier at the age of ten. As part of the LRA’s core command, his surrender is a very significant step in the efforts to bring a final end to the LRA.”
Sasha Lezhnev, Associate Director of Policy for Congo, the Great Lakes Region, and the LRA at the Enough Project, said: “Ongwen’s defection is strong evidence that the African mission against the LRA is working, slowly but surely. It will have a major psychological impact on other LRA commanders. But this is not the end — the U.S. and European Union must deepen the mission to counter the LRA’s illicit trafficking networks in ivory, diamonds, and gold, or else a revitalized LRA could come back in 2015.”
Holly Dranginis, Enough Project Policy Analyst, said: “Ongwen’s surrender not only signals a breakdown among LRA leadership, it triggers a critical opportunity for justice. Ongwen is indicted for murdering civilians, enslaving children, and stealing property. At a time when some are questioning the ICC’s credibility in the central African region, Ongwen’s surrender gives the court a chance to show its power to end impunity for atrocities, and help restore dignity to victims of the LRA’s brutal crimes.”
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/.