Child Soldiers

Ending Grand Theft on a Global Scale: Prosecuting the War Crime of Pillage

M23 rebel fighters north of Goma, DRC (2012) AP Photo/Jerome Delay

In Enough Project Policy Analyst Holly Dranginis’ latest report, Grand Theft Global: Prosecuting the War Crime of Natural Resource Pillage in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Dranginis provides an inside look at why the widespread theft of minerals in Congo has gone on unpunished, and how policymakers and legal practitioners can help advance cases.  Grand Theft Global is the result of research in Congo, The Hague, and Washington, DC, including dozens of interviews with Congolese attorneys, international prosecutors, and local communities affected by pillage and the violence it enables.  Read More »

Top LRA Commander’s Transfer to ICC “Historic”, “Victory for Victims” says Enough Project

Date: 
Jan 13, 2015
Author: 
Enough Team

January 13, 2015 --- Dominic Ongwen, one of the most senior commanders of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), will be transferred to the International Criminal Court (ICC), according to the U.S. State Department. Enough Project analysts are available for interviews, background on Ongwen, and expert commentary on the LRA and significance of the ICC referral in this case.

Kasper Agger, Enough Project LRA expert and Uganda-based field researcher, said: “The transfer of Dominic Ongwen to the ICC is a major victory for the thousands of LRA victims and a chance for Ongwen to go through a fair trial. Hopefully this can draw attention to massive rebuilding tasks in LRA affected areas, including the need for a comprehensive reconciliation and transitional justice process in Northern Uganda.”

Holly Dranginis, Enough Project Policy Analyst, said: “Ongwen's transfer to the ICC is  historic - a victory for the victims of the LRA's brutality, many of whom have been bravely demanding justice for over a decade now. It's also a welcome confirmation that the United States is increasingly supportive of the ICC's efforts in this region. The next step is for Ongwen to have a fair and thorough trial, with full consideration of crimes committed against him as a child, and robust protection for victims and witnesses.”

Abducted by the LRA at the age of 10, Ongwen rose in the ranks of the militia as a protégé of LRA leader Joseph Kony, and has been indicted by the ICC for multiple crimes against humanity including murder, pillaging, and enslavement.

More information:

  • Enough Project statement on ICC referral in the Ongwen case: http://eno.ug/1sf99WO
  • More background, expert commentary, and recent media coverage on the Ongwen case: http://eno.ug/1x5IkQr
  • Interview with Kasper Agger - From the Bloody Trail of Kony’s LRA (December 24, 2014): http://eno.ug/1CVSRD6
  • Briefing report on LRA illicit funding - Kony to LRA: “Bring me ivory, gold, and diamonds” (November 19, 2014): http://eno.ug/1uZL7OE

For media inquiries or interview requests, please contact: Greg Hittelman,  +1 310-717-

0606, gh@enoughproject.org

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The Enough Project is a project of the Center for American Progress aiming to end genocide and crimes against humanity. Founded in 2007, Enough focuses on the crises in Sudan, South Sudan, eastern Congo, Central African Republic, and areas affected by the Lord’s Resistance Army. Enough conducts intensive field research, develops practical policies to address these crises, and shares sensible tools to empower citizens and groups working for change. To learn more: www.enoughproject.org.

LRA commander Ongwen should be transferred to ICC, support to justice & reconciliation in LRA-affected areas should be increased

Senior Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) commander Dominic Ongwen, who surrendered Tuesday in the Central African Republic, should be transferred to the International Criminal Court to face charges of crimes against humanity and war crimes.  Read More »

LRA Commander Ongwen Should Be Transferred to ICC

Date: 
Jan 9, 2015
Author: 
Enough Team

Support to Justice and Reconciliation in LRA-affected Areas Should Be Increased

January 9, 2015 --- This week, Dominic Ongwen, one of the most senior commanders of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), surrendered to U.S. forces in the Central African Republic. Ongwen's defection is strong evidence that the African Union mission against the LRA is working, slowly but surely. It also triggers a critical opportunity for justice. 

Statement by the Enough Project:

Senior Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) commander Dominic Ongwen, who surrendered Tuesday in the Central African Republic, should be transferred to the International Criminal Court to face charges of crimes against humanity and war crimes.

Ongwen was indicted by the ICC in 2005 after Ugandan President Museveni requested an ICC investigation into potential atrocity crimes by the LRA in Northern Uganda. Now with Ongwen's surrender, some are calling for him to face trial or receive amnesty in Uganda. The ICC's complementarity principle is critical in this scenario. Ongwen should be transferred to The Hague, where Uganda is free to challenge the admissibility of the case, prompting the ICC to examine whether or not Uganda is willing and able to carry out an independent, thorough and fair investigation and trial related to Ongwen's charges.

Ugandan human rights voices reflect a diversity of views on this issue. Victor Ochen, founding director of local human rights organization, African Youth Initiative Network, and survivor of LRA violence, said, "Generally, it’s quite obvious that people need justice. At this point, whose justice? For the rebel or for the victims of Ongwen's barbaric acts?"

Some religious and political leaders from northern Uganda have expressed that Ongwen should receive amnesty. Uganda’s Amnesty Act has been an important tool to help spur defections from the LRA. Amnesty is likely not appropriate, however, for high-level individuals charged with grave war crimes and crimes against humanity. Prosecuting Ongwen is not mutually exclusive to a range of critical transitional justice mechanisms that are sorely needed for victims in Northern Uganda. But victims also deserve to see justice served.

It is important to recognize that Ongwen was abducted as a child soldier at age 10, and thus is both a victim and alleged perpetrator, raising potential mitigating circumstances. As with any indictee facing charges, Ongwen should be afforded a fair trial with thorough consideration of any potential mitigating circumstances.

At present, it is important for Ongwen to provide any information he may have on LRA leader Joseph Kony’s whereabouts and to help provide defection messages to current LRA fighters. The LRA is still active, so such information and messaging is critically important. Visits by his family members could form an important part of this defection messaging.

Finally, for sustainable peace to take root, greater support to a local justice and reconciliation process in northern Uganda is needed.  The Ugandan army is accused of committing atrocities in northern Uganda, yet these allegations have yet to prompt adequate investigation.  Uganda and donor governments must also prioritize support for victims and war-affected committees in northern Uganda and other LRA affected areas.

Link to January 6 press release on surrender of Ongwenwww.enoughproject.org/news/breaking-lra-top-commander-surrenders

Media inquiries: Enough Project analysts are available for interviews, background on Ongwen, and expert commentary. Contact: Greg Hittelman,  +1 310-717-0606gh@enoughproject.org

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The Enough Project is a project of the Center for American Progress aiming to end genocide and crimes against humanity. Founded in 2007, Enough focuses on the crises in Sudan, South Sudan, eastern Congo, Central African Republic, and areas affected by the Lord’s Resistance Army. Enough conducts intensive field research, develops practical policies to address these crises, and shares sensible tools to empower citizens and groups working for change. To learn more: www.enoughproject.org.

A Moment for Momentum: The Surrender of Dominic Ongwen

Dominic Ongwen, in a photograph from 2006

Read what Enough's experts are saying about the surrender of top LRA commander Dominic Ongwen, the backstory of the fighter known as "The White Ant," and news coverage from outlets ranging from The New York Times to Vice News.  Read More »

Fighting Impunity: The Role of Sanctions in Ending Conflict in Congo

The plight of women and children in eastern Congo has not received the urgent response it needs, which has facilitated widespread impunity. This culture of impunity allows perpetrators to continue their violations against vulnerable civilians. Sanctions on such perpetrators help combat the culture of impunity by holding the guilty accountable, allowing the survivors and their communities the opportunity to move forward and sending a clear message that violence against women and children will not be tolerated.  Read More »

Introducing Congo’s new Presidential Adviser on Sexual Violence and Child Recruitment

On July 9th, President Kabila appointed Jeannine Mabunda Lioko Mudiayi as Presidential Adviser on Sexual Violence and Child Recruitment. The creation of this position was a response to one of the recommendations that emerged from the national dialogues in September and October 2013.     Read More »

Child Soldiers: The Urgency of Reintegration

This is the third in a blog series about issues currently perpetuating the conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo, including the conflict minerals trade, sexual violence, and child soldier recruitment. Although many Congolese are facing incredibly difficult situations, there are local civil society groups taking action and creating avenues for sustainable peace. In this blog series, I will discuss each issue and give examples of organizations making positive changes.  Read More »

Behind the Headlines: Drivers of Violence in the Central African Republic

The Enough Project has been closely following the violent conflict in Central African Republic, where mass killings and human rights abuses continue at an alarming rate. This new report authored by Field Researcher Kasper Agger explores the underlying drivers of the conflict, including regional dynamics and natural resource exploitation. Additionally it identifies ways the international community can support sustainable peace and stability.

Behind the Headlines: Drivers of Violence in the Central African Republic

Still a Problem From Hell, Two Decades After Rwanda

Rwandan Genocide Remembrance

Twenty years after Rwanda’s horrors, there are signs of hope for a more effective international response to future genocides—but only if we recognize the evolution in genocidal tactics. This op-ed by John Prendergast originally appeared in The Daily Beast on the 20th anniversary of the Rwandan Genocide.  Read More »

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