Locals in northern Uganda have expressed concerns over limited, inadequate and inconsistent information concerning the court proceedings of alleged LRA commander Dominic Ongwen at The Hague based International Criminal Court.
We spoke to people from Acholi, West Nile and Teso sub-regions to gather their views on their access to the trial.
"I was given fifty strokes on the neck and it was too painful. My neck was in pain, my back side was so injured that I couldn’t sit. I prayed to God to let the soldiers attack us so that we would all die."
This is an excerpt from the book “I Am Evelyn Amony”, a 174 page book written by Evelyn Amony who was abducted at the age of 12 by the Lord’s Resistance Army from her village in Atiak in Amuru district.
In captivity, Amony was trained to be a fighter and acted as a military... escort to the rebel army’s leader Joseph Kony. At the age of fourteen, she would become Kony’s forced wife and later the mother of three of his children.
She spent 11 years in captivity until she was captured by the Ugandan military in 2005 and taken to a rehabilitation center in Gulu where she was reunited with her Family.
"The time has come to forgive Dominic Ongwen", writes Let's Talk, Uganda reader Fred Okot.
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.
This is followed by reports of a decision by the Ugandan government to withdraw its soldiers from the mission pursuing Kony’s rebel group saying that it has been neutralised.
Let’s Talk, Uganda spoke with local northern Ugandans about what they think about this move.
The trial of Dominic Ongwen is taking a summer recess and will resume on August 14.
The International Criminal Court (ICC) has partnered with the Danish embassy in Uganda to provide television sets, portable generators and public address systems among other items to facilitate monthly video screening of recorded public trial sessions.
The equipment will be given to 23 parishes in the affected communities in Northern Uganda, including Coroom which is former Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) commander, Dominic Ongwen’s birth place.
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 relentless debate has been sparked off on amnesty for alleged war perpetrators in Uganda. Ronnie Layoo presents some of the different arguments on the issue made by ICD judicial officials, prosecutors and civil society.
The case against alleged LRA commander Thomas Kwoyelo at the International Crimes Division of the High Court is currently ongoing. Let’s Talk, Uganda contributor Brenda Nanyunja gives the latest updates of what is taking place in this case.
Survivors of the Lord’s Resistance Army’s massacre at Lukodi have said that feel they have been abandoned because little support has been provided to them.
Moses Kibirige has survived being abandoned as a child by his UPDF soldier father during the war in northern Uganda and life on the streets. Using a gym he has created in Gulu, he now says he wants to bring hope and unity for other youth affected by conflict in Uganda.
His advice to his fellow youth?
"First have a plan and vision for their future before engaging in early marriage so that they can be able to take good care of their family and children. Youths should also learn... to visit other parts of the world so that they can learn what other people in different areas are doing to improve on their lives."
What do you think of Moses's story? And what advice would you give other Ugandans in overcoming adversity?
The withdrawal of Ugandan and US troops from the search for one of the world's most wanted men, LRA leader Joseph Kony, already appears to be having repercussions, as the United Nations warns of the return of a rebel group known for its brutality against children.
ICC arrest warrants were issued for Joseph Kony and four other senior Lord’s Resistance Army commanders in July 2005 for war crimes and crimes against humanity in northern Uganda. The 2011 establishment of the Regio...nal Cooperation Initiative for the elimination of the LRA (RCI-LRA) in Uganda led to multiple defections and arrests — including that of former LRA commander Dominic Ongwen, whose trial is ongoing at the ICC.
However, Kony himself remains at large and is thought to be hiding in Darfur, Sudan, or moving through the Central African Republic (CAR). Kony's charges include murder, sexual enslavement, pillaging and recruiting child soldiers.
Newsweek reports that just weeks after Ugandan and American forces withdrew their hunt for Joseph Kony's LRA, the rebel group abducted 61 people in northeastern Congo during a raid on 7 June.
Even though the LRA is still at large, Ugandan and American forces have withdrawn their hunt for the rebel forces saying their mission has been "already achieved".
Do you agree with this decision?
On Monday, a hearing in the Thomas Kwoyelo case was held with both Kwoyelo's lawyers and the prosecution requesting a further postponement of the case as they work to prepare their submissions. This follows another postponement last month.
Florence Adoch, a 45 year old woman from Layibi in Gulu municipality, says she is not interested in following the Ongwen trial because it is not being frequently broadcasted or talked about in her community.
Adoch who sells clothes at the Gulu Main Market says she does not feel any impact of the court proceedings. “The rate at which information is being given to us is limited which is making us to feel no tangible impact of the court proceedings.”
Do you agree? Could more be ...done to make Dominic Ongwen's trial accessible to Ugandans?
Photo credit: ICC-CPI Flickr.
Currently the Lukodi massacre is the subject of the trial of alleged LRA commander Dominic Ongwen at the ICC. During the memorial prayers, survivors commented on the ongoing proceedings.
Betty Piloya, who had previously travelled to The Hague to watch a hearing in Ongwen’s trial, observed that he“is not bothered about the crimes he committed”, saying that, when the trial judge asked him about the crimes he is accused of “he was just laughing and he did not look to be remorseful.”
We asked you want you wanted to know about what is happening in Ugandan transitional justice. Here Sarah Kasande of the International Center for Transitional Justice in Kampala answers your questions on the proceedings against Thomas Kwoyelo and Dominic Ongwen.
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?