It has been several years since proceedings began against Thomas Kwoyelo at the International Crimes Division of the High Court of Uganda (the ICD). Kwoyelo is now facing over 70 charges of crimes against humanity, kidnap, pillaging, and murder among several others of that character and is said to have been a commander under the Lord’s Resistance Army.
Given the gravity of the offences allegedly committed and the fact that this will be the first trial for an alleged LRA commander taking place in Uganda, one would expect a huge turn up at the court to listen to the proceedings or even to have a look at Kwoyelo himself.
However, the proceedings have not received as much publicity as they ought to. This could be attributed to various reasons including several delays in the start of the trial.
Last week the community of Lukodi held memorial prayers to commemorate the LRA's massacre there in 2004.
During the event, however, community members expressed disappointment with the Ugandan government and their leaders saying that they have not been supported.
In what ways do you think the government should support communities like Lukodi?
Robert Komakech of Gulu says he is disappointed with screenings of Dominic Ongwen's trial at the ICC.
“I was ... concerned about the translation from English to Luo which was not articulate,” he said, “It also leaves out other people in northern Uganda who also faced the same terror by the LRA.”
Do you share Robert's views? Could the ICC do more to make Ongwen's trial more accessible to Ugandans?
The Trust Fund for Victims is a quasi-independent agency of the International Criminal Court created for the benefit of victims of crimes within the jurisdiction of the court.
Do you think this institution has made an impact in Uganda?
“My child went missing in 2004 when I was still in captivity. She was called Winnie Angeyocan. At the time she was four years old and got lost at a time when we were in South Sudan when UPDF soldiers fought with the LRA,” she says.
“By placing my child’s name on the Peace Path this will [hopefully] help with finding her as well as keeping her in our memory. The Peace Path will show future generations how dangerous war is because there are [still] so many people missing, who died and who were injured.”
What is causing the delays in Thomas Kwoyelo's trial at Uganda's International Crimes Division?
The New York Times reports that the after being deployed in the Central African Republic to hunt Joseph Kony and the LRA, the UPDF has left a "trail of abuse allegations — including rape, sexual slavery and the exploitation of young girls."
These reports come after news that the Ugandan army has decided to end its hunt for Kony and his army, arguing that the LRA no longer poses a threat.
What do you think of these developments?
This past week a hearing in Thomas Kwoyelo's pre-trial at the International Crimes Division in Kampala was postponed to June. This is one of several delays the case has faced in the past year.
What do you think the delays in this case mean for the criminal prosecution of international crimes in Uganda?
Recently the US Africa command (AFRICOM) announced this week that its mission to hunt the LRA and its leader Joseph Kony was over. RFI English reports that this move has been met with criticism with critics saying Kony still poses a risk and that justice for victims of the LRA still remains a concern.
Do you agree? Should the United States - and Uganda - continue to seek Joseph Kony's forces?
"Dominic Ongwen’s lawyers at the International Criminal Court (ICC) on Wednesday challenged the account that a former abductee of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebels made regarding an attack on a camp for internally displaced persons (IDPs). Defense lawyer Charles Achaleke Taku alleged that there were contradictions between the statement the witness made to Ugandan police in 2004 and her testimony in court about the attack.
Testifying for the prosecution under the pseudon...ym Witness P-18, the former abductee said she was part of the group of LRA fighters who attacked the IDP camp at Lukodi and the army detachment at the same location. She said she was not armed during the attack but went along with the fighters to carry food back to the guerrillas’ hideouts.
Asked by Taku which commander led her unit in the May 2004 attack on Lukodi, the witness said she could not recall the commander’s name."
Following years of conflict, the reintegration of formerly abducted women and children born of war continues to pose challenges for northern Uganda. As the passing of a national transitional justice policy delays, many survivors in the region are looking elsewhere for recognition.
One such initiative is the “Peace Path”, a new monument in Gulu created by NGO Women's Initiatives for Gender Justice to recognise war-affected communities and encourage reconciliation between victims and their communities.
"A former servant in the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) described to the International Criminal Court (ICC) being raped by an LRA fighter at the age of 13 and her duties as a babysitter.
Witness P-352 told the court on Monday that as a babysitter she was expected to carry the child she was assigned to care for whenever the unit changed location or run, carrying the child, if the unit came under attack. She said she and other girls who worked as servants were commonly referred t...o as ting ting in the LRA.
The witness said soon after she was abducted by the LRA she served for four to five months in what she called the household of Buk. This is the first name of a commander of LRA’s Sinia brigade whose full name is given in prosecution documents as Buk Abudema. He was senior in rank to Dominic Ongwen, who is on trial at the ICC. Witness P-352 told the court that after serving in Abudema’s household, she was assigned to Ongwen’s household."
Are you interested in following updates of the Dominic Ongwen trial at the ICC?
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Recently a monument dedicated to women and children affected by the war in northern Uganda was launched in Gulu.
Poli Sharon, who was abducted from secondary school in Lira, shed tears when she placed a plaque with her name on it.
She said it reminded her of her relatives and family members who were murdered during the time the LRA raided their village, but also said “[the monument] is very important because it reminds us of where we have been, what we have gone through and w...ere we are going."
What do you think of this? Do you think Uganda needs to create monuments in remembrance of war?
On 20 April 2017, the Uganda People’s Defence Force received its first contingent pursuing the leader of Lord’s Resistance Army leader Joseph Kony in the Central African Republic.
Let’s Talk, Uganda spoke with local northern Ugandans about what they think about this move.
37 year old Lucy Lakot a resident of Kal A village in Koch Goma says the move by the government is a “betrayal” of the victims of the atrocities committed by the LRA....
“I think the move of the government to withdraw the UPDF has totally betrayed us the victims of the atrocities, killings that we went through for two decades, especially given the pain we were subjected to by the rebels.”
What do you think? Do you agree with Lucy?
Despite still being wanted at the International Criminal Court, the Ugandan is withdrawing in its hunt for LRA leader Joseph Kony the BBC reports.
What do you think of this development?
Dominic Ongwen's trial is on recess till 1st May. Some people say that Ugandans should forgive the alleged Lord's Resistance Army commander. Do you agree?
Did you know that today is the anniversary of the end of a brutal operation by the 22nd Battalion of the National Resistance Army (NRA) at Burcoro village, Gulu in 1991?
Between the 14th and the 18th of April 1991, several hundred people were detained at a primary school, interrogated, tortured, and sexually abused throughout the four day operation.
Evelyn Amony and Grace Acan have both overcome captivity by the LRA to become advocates for gender justice in northern Uganda. They have since written about their experiences in recently published books.
Evelyn is adamant that the bigger picture of the war be documented.
"The truth has to be brought out that both sides committed atrocities," she says, "The future can be unpredictable. Suppose the government changes, no one will know what happened during Museveni’s Government,... but when it is written down, it stays forever.”
What do you think? How important is it for survivors to tell their stories?
Uganda's Bidi Bidi refugee camp has reportedly become the largest in the world, hosting up to 270,000 people. This, according to some, places strain on the country's resources and infrastructure.
What do you think of Uganda's seemingly open policy towards refugees?