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Expectations of LRA victims overwhelms ICC, 16 Years later

FILE PHOTO: Former LRA commander, Dominic Ongwen stands trial in the ICC.

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The International Criminal Court – ICC continues to enjoy mixed fortunes in its works in Uganda, the first country to refer a situation back in 2003.

Sixteen years later, only Dominic Ongwen, one of the five indicted top LRA Commanders has surrendered to the Court to stand trial for war crimes and crimes against humanity for his arrests warrants were issued at the seat of the Court in The Hague, Netherlands.

Maria Mabinty Kamara, the Head of ICC Uganda field outreach office says although the court has done its best to manage expectations for justice from the victims of the conflict, the court is still overwhelmed sixteen years later.

Kamara says the other challenge her office face in standing with the victims of the conflict is the difficulties involved in getting victims to comprehend the complex nature of the trial of Dominic Ongwen.

“The concept of International Criminal Justice in itself is a complex issue by nature. So, to get the victims’ communities to meaningfully understand the process is challenging – leave alone the language dimension” she says.

Kamara says one of the victims’ expectations from the trial is the need for early reparations, something not provided for in the Rome Statute, the founding treaty of the International Criminal Court.

She says “many victims expect to be paid individual reparations as opposed to collective reparations”. According to Kamara, the Court has succeeded on many fronts including increasing access to in-the-courtroom proceedings of the trial of Dominic Ongwen.

“One of the many platforms we have used through the years is the Radio and the video screenings of the summary of the trial of Dominic Ongwen. Through these interactions, we have been able to answer several questions from the victims” she stated.  She explains that at least 11,000 people have registered to receive regular updates about the trial on an SMS platform the office is operating since 2016. She says as Uganda joined the rest of the World to commemorate the International Criminal Justice day, victims of the conflict must remain steadfast that the court has unwavering commitment to deliver justice.

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