Case: The Prosecutor v. Dominic Ongwen
Today, 28 October 2015, the Presidency of the International Criminal Court (ICC) decided that the confirmation of charges hearing in the case concerning Dominic Ongwen, scheduled for 21 January 2016, shall be held at the seat of the Court at The Hague (Netherlands).
On 10 September 2015, the ICC Pre-Trial Chamber II had recommended to the ICC Presidency that that holding the confirmation of charges hearing in Uganda would be desirable and in the interests of justice. Following consultations with the Ugandan authorities, the ICC Presidency received an updated assessment from the Court’s Registry on the feasibility of holding the confirmation of charges hearing in Uganda.
The ICC Presidency noted the excellent co‑operation of Uganda in assisting the Registry with the preparation of its preliminary and final assessments. The Presidency noted also that there would be a number of benefits to holding the hearing in Uganda as in principle this would contribute to a better perception of the Court and bring the proceedings closer to the communities affected by the alleged crimes. However, the Presidency noted particularly the possibility, expressed by Uganda itself, that political tensions may increase during an upcoming electoral period, especially during January 2016, which may have an adverse impact on the Court. The Presidency also noted operational limitations, in particular concerns that holding proceedings in Uganda would significantly impact the Court’s resources during its move to its permanent premises scheduled for December 2015. For these reasons, the ICC Presidency found that the potential benefits of holding the confirmation hearing in Uganda in January 2016 are outweighed by the significant risks
The confirmation of charges hearing in respect of Dominic Ongwen is scheduled to commence on 21 January 2016 and is expected to last three to no more than five working days. The confirmation of charges hearing is not a trial. It is a Pre-Trial hearing held to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to commit the case for trial before a Trial Chamber.
Background: Dominic Ongwen was the alleged Brigade Commander of the Sinia Brigade of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). On 8 July 2005, ICC Judges issued an arrest warrant against Mr Ongwen for 3 counts of crimes against humanity (murder; enslavement; inhumane acts of inflicting serious bodily injury and suffering) and 4 counts of war crimes (murder; cruel treatment of civilians; intentionally directing an attack against a civilian population; pillaging) allegedly committed on or about 20 May 2004 at the Lukodi IDP Camp in the Gulu District. On 16 January 2015, Dominic Ongwen was surrendered to the ICC’s custody and transferred to the ICC Detention Centre on 21 January 2015. His initial appearance before the Court took place on 26 January 2015.