- Title: Sex crimes in focus at Hague trial of Ugandan rebel commander
- Date: 4th December 2016
- Summary: RI-KWANGBA, SUDAN/DRC BORDER (FILE) (ORIGINALLY 4:3) (REUTERS) LRA GENERAL JOSEPH KONY FORMER LRA SECOND IN COMMAND, VINCENT OTTI
- Embargoed: 19th December 2016 20:02
- Keywords: Ongwen war crimes Sudan Uganda Hague Barlonyo massacre Netherlands
- Location: THE HAGUE, THE NETHERLANDS /BARLONYO NORTHERN UGANDA /CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC /OWINY-KIBUL, SUDAN/RI-KWANGBA, SUDAN/DRC BORDER/OLWAL CAMP, GULU DISTRICT, UNKNOWN LOCATION, UGANDA
- City: THE HAGUE, THE NETHERLANDS /BARLONYO NORTHERN UGANDA /CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC /OWINY-KIBUL, SUDAN/RI-KWANGBA, SUDAN/DRC BORDER/OLWAL CAMP, GULU DISTRICT, UNKNOWN LOCATION, UGANDA
- Country: Uganda
- Reuters ID: LVA0035BHWFNR
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text:PLEASE NOTE THIS EDIT CONTAINS MATERIAL WHICH WAS ORIGINALLY 4:3
Dominic Ongwen, a top lieutenant of Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) leader Joseph Kony goes on trial in The Hague on Tuesday (December 6) accused of war crimes ranging from child kidnapping and forced marriage to rape and murder during the rebel group's long rampage in northern Uganda.
The trial of Dominic Ongwen opens as the International Criminal Court faces the biggest crisis in its 15-year history, with several member states quitting over claims it unfairly singles out Africans for prosecution.
Ongwen was himself a victim of the LRA's child kidnapping campaign in 1988, pressed into service as a young teenager in Kony's war against the government of President Yoweri Museveni, who had seized power two years before.
The court will focus more on Ongwen's alleged sex crimes and crimes against women after criticism that past ICC cases neglected these crimes. It will be the first time charges of forced marriage are central to an ICC prosecutor's case.
Ongwen faces 70 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity for attacks on refugee camps in northern Uganda between 2002 and 2005, including committing or directing acts of rape, sexual enslavement and of conscripting child soldiers.
He will be asked to plead guilty or not guilty, after which prosecutors and lawyers representing the conflict's victims will outline their case. On a later date his lawyers are expected to argue he is as much victim as perpetrator.
The ICC brought charges against Ongwen, Kony and four others who are believed dead, in 2005. Ongwen gave himself up to U.S. troops last January after a decade on the run, fearing for his life after falling out with Kony, who is still at large.
For the ICC, the start of the trial is a rare positive, coming after South Africa and Gambia announced their withdrawal from the court over allegations of anti-African bias and amid criticism from President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines, one of the court's few Asian members.
Most African and European countries continue to support the court, the first permanent international war crimes tribunal. But many expect it to face increased diplomatic pressure from the United States under President-elect Donald Trump, who has promised a less internationalist foreign policy stance.
The ICC, based in The Hague, Netherlands, was founded when 120 countries adopted its founding treaty in 1998. It is seen as a successor to the Nuremburg trials after World War II and ad-hoc U.N. war crimes tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda.
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