Uganda wants to try LRA rebel commander

Uganda has the capacity to try Dominic Ongwen who surrendered to US forces in CAR last week, says minister.

    Uganda wants to try LRA rebel commander
    The Lord's Resistance Army began in Uganda in the 1980s as a tribal uprising [Reuters]

    Uganda's government said it wants to try a Lord's Resistance Army rebel commander who recently surrendered to US forces for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

    Dominic Ongwen is in US custody in the Central African Republic after surrendering there on January 6. He is wanted by the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands.

    Some of our partners want him tried by the ICC but we want him tried in Uganda because we have the capacity to try him.

    Asuman Kiyingi, State Minister for Regional Cooperation

    "Some of our partners want him tried by the ICC but we want him tried in Uganda because we have the capacity to try him," said State Minister for Regional Cooperation Asuman Kiyingi on Monday.

    Kiyingi said a decision would be made during consultations between the African Union, Uganda, US and United Nations.

    State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said the US is working with the African Union to determine the next steps for Ongwen.

    "We believe it's important he's held accountable and that we should work with the relevant institutions and states to determine the proper method," Harf told reporters.

    'Complementarity Principle'

    Last week, Uganda's Foreign Affairs Permanent Secretary said the ICC and Uganda government would discuss the ICC's "Complementarity Principle," which he said gives states first responsibility and right to prosecute international crimes like those allegedly committed by Ongwen.

    The LRA, led by Joseph Kony, began in Uganda in the 1980s as a tribal uprising. At the peak of its powers the group razed villages, raped women and amputated limbs. It is especially notorious for recruiting boys to fight and taking girls as sex slaves.

    Ongwen, Kony and three others who have reportedly since died were charged by the ICC. The ICC warrant of arrest for Ongwen lists seven counts of alleged individual criminal responsibility including crimes against humanity, enslavement, murder and inhumane acts of inflicting serious bodily injury.

    Cecilia Ladu, Ongwen's stepmother, said he was abducted by LRA in 1989 when he was 10 years old.

    "His abduction was a crime. It should be Kony who should go to the ICC, not Ongwen," Ladu said.

    The family said they want him tried in a traditional justice system called Mato-Oput, in which chiefs from his tribe would parade him before his victims and he would be made to drink bitter herbs, apologise and then be pardoned.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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