The Acholi Cultural Institution
has criticized the recent conviction of former Lord’s Resistance Army-LRA rebel
Commander Dominic Ongwen.
Ongwen who commanded the LRA’s Sinia
Brigade was found guilty of 61 out of the 70 counts of war crimes and
crimes against humanity for which he faced a trial before the International
Ongwen was found guilty of leading
attacks against the civilian population in Pajule
IDP camp on October 10, 2003, Odek IDP camp on April 29, 2004, Lukodi IDP camp
on May 19, 2004, and Abok IDP camps on June 29, 2004, resulting in murder, attempted
murder, torture, enslavement, destruction of property, and conscripting children under the age of 15 into the Sinia brigade, among other charges.
But Ambrose Olaa, the Prime Minister
of Acholi Cultural Institution told Uganda Radio Network in an interview on Wednesday
that the conviction contributes to a small fraction of what
constitutes justice to the people of Acholi. Olaa notes that what transpired
in Acholi sub-region exceeded what the ICC looked at. He says that the trial was based on a
narrow timeframe, narrow geographical area, and narrow definition of the victims of
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However, the judges found
that there was no evidence that supported the claim that Ongwen
suffered from any mental disease or disorder during the period relevant to the
charges or that he committed the crimes under any threats.
But Olaa notes that it’s hard to praise
fairness in the judgement since it’s only tailored to focus on the aspect of
the justice which the court was interested in but not the context of justice in
a complex conflict that ravaged northern Uganda.
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Olaa says that questions need to be asked on the outcome of the judgment basing on other factors that haven’t been achieved
despite grave atrocities committed in the region. He says whereas the legal question could have been answered through the verdict, the cultural, sociological,
economic, political questions and justice to the society remains
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Former Northern Ugandan Diocese Bishop Rt Rev Nelson Onono-Onweng, however, differs on the judgement saying justice has
finally been served to the victims of Ongwen’s led attacks. Bishop Onono-Onweng says the judgement
was fair in all its aspects.
“They were fair to have that long
period of time to walk the journey of justice.
From here in Lukodi where locals were massacred, people including me are happy that
he was convicted,” Bishop Onweng told URN in an interview. The prelate is among hundreds of victims of the LRA war within the region who welcomed the conviction of Ongwen and see it as a step towards healing.
During the course of Ongwen’s trial that commenced in December 2016, the Chamber heard, from a large number
of witnesses terrible accounts of the events and of the extreme suffering that
the civilian population of Northern Uganda experienced.
Over the course of 234 hearings,
the Office of the ICC Prosecutor presented a total of 109 witnesses and
experts, the Defence team presented 63 witnesses and experts and 7 witnesses
and experts were called by the legal representative of the victims. A total of
4095 victims were represented in the case.
The ICC has scheduled a sentencing hearing for the weeks of 12-16 April during which it will
receive submissions on the appropriate sentence by the Prosecutor, the Defence
for Dominic Ongwen and the legal representatives of the participating victims.