Sunday, 17 January 2021

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Arrival first LRA commander at the ICC marks "milestone in accountability"

ekenitr - International Crime Court / Flickr 2.0 Generic CC BY NC 2.0

21 January 2015 – Following his surrender earlier this month, senior Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) commander Dominic Ongwen has been transferred from the Central African Republic to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague. Ten years ago, the ICC issued an arrest warrant against Mr. Ongwen for crimes against humanity and war crimes allegedly committed in 2004 within the context of the situation in Uganda.

Dominic Ongwen, also known as 'the White Ant', was one of the most feared commanders in the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). Abducted by the LRA at the age of 10, Mr Ongwen rose rapidly in rebel ranks, becoming a major at the age of 18 and a brigadier by his late 20s after winning the confidence of LRA leader Joseph Kony. Ongwen became known for his courage on the battlefield and for carrying out brutal attacks against civilians.

Claiming to fight for a biblical state, the LRA has killed more than 100,000 people and kidnapped more than 60,000 children during the three decade-long conflict which has spread to several of Uganda's neighbours.

Ongwen's surrender

After years of hiding in the remote forests of central Africa, Ongwen said it was time to face the charges against him. 'The White Ant' surrendered on January 6 in the Central African Republic.

"I did not want to die in the bush, so I decided to follow the right path and listen to the calling of the ICC," said Ongwen, on a video taken by the Ugandan army.

step forward in efforts to bring justice

Both UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the UN Security Council stressed that Mr. Ongwen's transfer to the International Criminal Court (ICC) marks an important milestone in accountability, with the first LRA commander being brought before the Court.

In addition, Mr. Ban urged all troop-contributing countries and governments of the region to remain committed to the ending the threat posed by the LRA and bringing to justice LRA leader Joseph Kony, and called on the LRA to immediately disarm and demobilize, cease attacks and release all those abducted.

"The transfer of Dominic Ongwen to the ICC is a major step for those affected by the LRA's long history of crimes," said Daniel Bekele, Africa director at Human Rights Watch.

"All eyes will now be on the ICC to deliver fair, meaningful justice that will resonate with the LRA's victims."


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