By Staff Writer
Victims of the Lord Resistance Army (LRA) insurgency in northern Uganda have demanded for justice to be served in the ongoing International Criminal Court (ICC) trial against former commander, Dominic Ongwen who is charged with 70 counts of crimes against humanity and war crimes, including attacks against civilians, torture, sexual and gender-based crimes and conscription and use of child soldiers, some of them the very crimes he was a victim of all those years ago.
This comes after the trial opened 6 December 2016, after Ongwen who was abducted at 10, surrendered himself to US forces in the Central African Republic in March 2015. He becomes the first LRA top commander to face international law after Uganda preferred the group to ICC, hence an arrest warrant on the leadership of LRA including. As it is the norm ICC outreach office and the International Centre for Transitional Justice (ICTJ) set up several live-streaming points both in Kampala and in the north for the two days, to bring the court proceedings to the people, especially to those directly affected in Lukodi, Pajule and Odek villages, which formerly hosted camps for the internally displaced Ongwen is accused of attacking between 2003-2004.
The proceedings were translated into local language so that ordinary people get a sense of what is happening. Reactions on the trial have been enormous with some victims in northern Uganda where Ongwen comes from, saying that justice should be served. For some it was obvious that watching Ongwen while the proceedings opened old wounds and had brought back horrendous memories of the insurgency. An unidentified man was sighted punching the picture of Ongwen on a banner placed at the live stream point in Lukodi. Another one had no kind words for Ongwen. He said that if someone has committed a crime, they should face the law like Ongwen, adding that justice is the only way the people of northern Uganda will absolutely heal.
Many of the victims The London Evening Post spoke to sought for retribution, arguing that it is the only tangible way justice to the people who suffered in the hands of Ongwen can be served. “They burnt my grandmother in her own hut and shot the son of my co-wife. I feel like I could go to The Hague and kill Ongwen myself,” said an elderly woman as she wiped away tears as she stared at Ongwen on screen at Lukodi.