On Wednesday 23 March 2016, Pre-Trial Chamber II of the International Criminal Court (“ICC” or “Court”) issued a decision confirming 70 charges brought by the Prosecutor against Dominic Ongwen and committed him to trial before a Trial Chamber.
Pre-Trial Chamber II is composed of Presiding Judge Cuno Tarfusser (Italy), Judge Chang-ho Chung (Republic of Korea) and Judge Marc Perrin de Brichambaut (France) who adopted a separate concurring opinion.
The decision confirming the charges can be appealed only with the authorisation of Pre-Trial Chamber II. The ICC Presidency will assign the case to a Trial Chamber in due course.
The Chamber concluded that there are substantial grounds to believe that Dominic Ongwen is responsible, pursuant to articles 25(3) (a) (direct perpetration, indirect perpetration and indirect co-perpetration), 25(3) (b) (ordering), 25(3) (d) (i) and (ii) and 28(a) (command responsibility) of the Rome Statute, for the following crimes against humanity and war crimes:
War crimes include: attack against the civilian population; murder and attempted murder; rape; sexual slavery; torture; cruel treatment; outrages upon personal dignity; destruction of property; pillaging; the conscription and use of children under the age of 15 to participate actively in hostilities;
Crimes against humanity: murder and attempted murder; torture; sexual slavery; rape; enslavement; forced marriage as an inhumane act; persecution; and other inhumane acts.
The confirmed charges concern crimes allegedly committed during attacks against the Pajule IDP (October 2003), Odek IDP (April 2004) Lukodi IDP (May 2004) and Abok IDP camps (June 2004), as well as sexual and gender-based crimes directly and indirectly committed by Dominic Ongwen and crimes of conscription and use in hostilities of children under the age of 15 allegedly committed in northern Uganda between 1 July 2002 and 31 December 2005.
The Chamber based its decision on the evidence presented to it by the Prosecutor and by the Defence which included (i) witness statements or transcripts of interviews of a total of 123 witnesses; (ii) records of intercepted LRA radio communications; and (iii) oral testimonies of seven witnesses given before Single Judge Cuno Tarfusser under article 56 of the Rome Statute in the presence of the Prosecutor and the Defence in September and November 2015.
Dominic Ongwen was allegedly Commander in the Sinia Brigade of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA).
The warrant of arrest for Dominic Ongwen, issued by Pre-Trial Chamber II under seal on 8 July 2005 and unsealed on 13 October 2005.
Mr Ongwen was surrendered to the ICC on 16 January 2015 and was transferred to the ICC custody on 21 January 2015.
The confirmation of charges hearing in this case was held from 21 to 27 January 2016 in the presence of the accused and his Defence Counsel, the Prosecution and the Legal Representatives of the victims.