ICC Rights Watch

ICC Prosecutor Announces Conclusion of Investigation Phase in Central African Republic

By: Sallie Moppert

Impunity Watch News Staff Writer

THE HAGUE, Netherlands – After over a decade of investigations into the atrocities and crimes occurring in the Central African Republic, the International Criminal Court (ICC) announced that it would be concluding the investigation phase into a situation being addressed by the Court. The ICC opened its first investigation into the Situation in the Central African Republic in May 2007. The goal of the investigation was to uncover and examine evidence of alleged crimes against humanity and war crimes during the armed conflict occurring in the Central African Republic (CAR) between July 2002 and July 2003. A second investigation was launched in September 2014 after a referral by the Government of the CAR, with this investigation looking into the alleged crimes against humanity and war crimes occurring between the armed groups Séléka and the Anti-Balaka since August 2012.

Muslim families in a neighborhood near Bangui, trapped by the violence occurring, make plans to flee their homes.
Photo courtesy of Human Rights Watch.

“Our work in the Situation in the Central African Republic is, however, far from over,” ICC Prosecutor Karim A.A. Khan KC explained in his statement. “My Office will now concentrate its efforts on ensuring the successful prosecution of those subject to arrest warrants and significantly deepening its cooperation with the Special Criminal Court for the CAR.”

Since the commencement of the investigations into the Situation in the CAR, several individuals have been arrested and charged with various crimes against humanity and war crimes. Two notable cases include that of Alfred Yekatom and Patrice-Edouard Ngaïssona, who have been charged with a multitude of crimes, including intentional attacks against the civilian population, murder, rape, cruel treatment, mutilation, persecution, severe deprivation of physical liberty and recruiting child soldiers. Another ongoing case involves the confirmation of charges against Maxime Mokom, who has been arrested and transferred to the ICC in March 2022 for similar crimes. The Mokom case was recently postponed by the Pre-Trial Chamber on January 24, 2023.

“Since the opening of these investigations, my Office has examined evidence related to alleged crimes committed by all parties to the armed conflict. It carried out its work in an independent, impartial and objective manner, in partnership with survivors, civil society, and with fruitful cooperation of relevant national authorities,” Khan said. “In the discussions held between my Office and Central African Republic authorities, we have addressed a common vision through which the focus of action for accountability will now move to the domestic level, with the committed and meaningful support of my Office. My Office stands ready to continue its work with and alongside the authorities of the Central African Republic, survivors, the families of victims, and civil society in the task that lies ahead.”


For further information, please see:

Human Rights Watch – Central African Republic: ICC Investigation Needed – 26 June 2014

ICC – Situation in Central African Republic II: Alfred Yekatom surrendered to the ICC for crimes against humanity and war crimes – 17 Nov. 2018

ICC – Situation in Central African Republic II: Maxime Jeoffroy Eli Mokom Gawaka surrendered to the ICC for crimes against humanity and war crimes – 14 Mar. 2022

ICC – The Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Karim A.A. Khan KC, announces conclusion of the investigation phase in the Situation in the Central African Republic – 16 Dec. 2022

From Child Soldier to War Crimes Commander – ICC Confirms Registry Transmission of List of Individuals for Reparation Samples for the Victims of Dominic Ongwen

By: Tracy Acquan

Journal of Global Rights and Organizations, Associates Articles Editor

THE HAGUE, Netherlands– On January 16, 2023, the International Criminal Court (“ICC”) approved a sample list of individuals for reparations relating to the alleged crimes of Dominic Ongwen. The Chamber was fully content that the “assembled sample of 205 victims” was “sufficiently representative of the universe of potential victims [in] regards to gender, age, alleged harm, alleged crimes, and alleged locations” of the crimes.

Children in Barlonyo, Uganda at the site of the war crimes. Photo courtesy of Open Democracy and Flickr/Roberto Maldeno.

This decision comes a month after the Appeals Chamber of the ICC rejected Dominic Ongwen’s appeal of Trial Chamber IX’s decision to find him guilty of war crimes. He was sentenced to 25 years of imprisonment after being found guilty of “61 crimes, committed in Northern Uganda between July 1, 2002, and December 31, 2005.”  

Between the tender ages of nine to fourteen, Ongwen was abducted by the Lord’s Resistance Army (“LRA”) “as he was walking to school in northern Uganda.” As the years went by, he rose in ranks from child soldier to commander in the LRA. Established in 1988 by Joseph Kony, the LRA is a Ugandan rebel group “currently operating in the border region of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic, and South Sudan.” The LRA is responsible for displacing and mutilating people, abducting “67,000 youth, including children for use as child soldiers, sex slaves, and porters.”  In March of 2010, Congress passed the “Lord’s Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Recovery Act of 2009” as a measure to support and assist in efforts to disband the group, protect civilians, and restore peace to the people of central Africa. 

Popularly known as the “White Ant” Ongwen is accused of committing some of the most horrific crimes against humanity which include but are not limited to rape, torture, mutilation, abduction, and recruitment of child soldiers. During his appeal, Ongwen characterized himself as a victim, stating that “I’m one of the people against whom the LRA committed atrocities.” His defense of “mental disease or duress” was insufficient to absolve himself of punishment. Ongwen’s defense was unsuccessful in proving that he lived in a “constant state of fear.” The imminence element of duress requires a showing that the defendant lived with “a threat of death or serious bodily harm” on a “continuing basis.” Ongwen was described by witnesses as a “self-confident commander who had disobeyed orders.” He even had a contentious relationship at times with Joseph Kony.

The ICC’s decision to accept the sample list is a step towards the goal of obtaining reparations for the 4,065 victims of Ongwen’s crimes. After Ongwen’s conviction, many activists feared delays in the reparations phase of the proceedings due to procedural delays. The ICC wanted to accept a sample “sufficiently objective and statistically representative” of the victims. The victims would be randomly selected by the “Registry within five main categories of the victims in the case.” This includes crimes committed in the camp of Pajule IDP, the Odek IDP, Lukodi IDP, sexual and gender-based crimes, and crimes against soldiers. Moving forward the ICC instructs the LRVs to consult with the victims on whether they “consent to their identities being disclosed to the Defense.” Many victims hope that these proceedings will serve as a “recognition of the harms” they have faced at the hands of Dominic Ongwen, “The White Ant.”


For further information please see:

BBC-Dominic Ongwen-from child abductee to LRA rebel commander -6 May 2021

Counter Terrorism Guide-Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA)

ICC-Decision on the Registry Transmission of List of Individuals and Relevant Information for Reparations Sample-16 Dec. 2023

ICC-Ongwen case: ICC Appeals Chamber confirms the conviction and sentencing decisions- 15 Dec. 2023

Opinio Juris-Managing Expectations of Victims and Sustaining Community Outreach-11 May 2022

The Conversation – Dominic Ongwen: how the case of a former child soldier exposed weaknesses in international criminal law- 16 Jan. 2023

The White House-Statement by the President on the Signing of the Lord’s Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act of 2009-24 May 2010

ICC Prosecutor Concludes the Investigation Phase in the Situation in Georgia

By: Leah Wilck

Journal of Global Rights and Organizations, Associate Articles Editor

THE HAGUE, Netherlands – On December 16, 2022, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Karim A.A. Khan KC, released a statement concluding the investigation phase in the situation in Georgia. This comes 6 years after the Pre-Trial Chamber granted the Prosecutor’s request to begin investigating allegations of crimes against humanity and war crimes by the Georgian armed forces, the South Ossetian forces, and the Russian armed forces during the 2008 international armed conflict.

Prosecutor Karim A.A. Khan KC of the International Criminal Court. Photo courtesy of the International Criminal Court

In August of 2008, an international armed conflict broke out between Georgia and Russia over the region of South Ossetia. This conflict resulted in a reported 138,000 individuals displaced as well as hundreds of lives lost on both sides. The Office of the Prosecutor received information on behalf of 6,335 victims on the matter, leading to its decision to open an investigation. National authorities in Georgia and Russia had already taken domestic proceedings in conducting investigations, however, Georgia’s investigations were indefinitely suspended in March of this past year. Russian investigations are supposedly ongoing.

On June 30, 2022, the ICC delivered arrest warrants for three suspects based on reasonable grounds that they were responsible for war crimes including unlawful confinement, torture and inhuman treatment, outrages upon personal dignity, hostage taking, and unlawful transfer of civilians, in violation of the Rome Statute. As of now, the arrest warrants are out for Mr. Mikhail Mayramovich Mindzaev, Mr. Gamlet Guchmazov, and Mr. David Georgiyevich Sanakoev; however, all three are still at large.

In the press release, the Office of the Prosecutor stated that it is the belief of the office that another suspect, Mr. Vyacheslav Boris, who was the Major General in the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation and Deputy Commander of the Airborne Forces during these events, is now deceased. Furthermore, in the Press Release, Prosecutor Khan said, “I am not willing to continue to overpromise and underdeliver for survivors and the families of the victims. To achieve meaningful results, we must be robust in our analysis of how resources can be most effectively deployed to deliver the greatest impact for those affected by crimes falling within our jurisdiction globally.” While this is the first time in the 20 years since the ICC’s establishment that the Office has closed the investigation phase, Khan maintains work on the situation in Georgia is far from over, as is his work with other situations. Furthermore, he intends to continue to investigate and prosecute with the goal of promoting the core ideals of the ICC and the Rome statute.


For further information, please see: 

ICC – The Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Karim A.A. Khan KC, announces conclusion of the investigation phase in the Situation in Georgia – 16 Dec. 2022

ICC – Situation in Georgia: ICC Pre-Trial Chamber delivers three arrest warrants – 30 Jun. 2022

ICC – ICC Prosecutor, Karim A.A. Khan QC, announces application for arrest warrants in the Situation in Georgia – 10 Mar. 2022

ICC – Georgia, Situation in Georgia, ICC-01/15, Investigation

Civil.ge – ICC Concludes Investigation Phase into 2008 Conflict – 16 Dec. 2022

AP News – ICC prosecutor ends Georgia, Central African Republic probes – 16 Dec. 2022

ICC Appeals Chambers Unanimously Confirm Dominic Ongwen’s Conviction and Sentencing Decision Vindicating Over 4,095 Victims

By: Marie LeRoy

Impunity Watch News Staff Writer

Strasbourg, FRANCE – The International Criminal Court (ICC) Appeals Chamber confirmed the Trial Chambers conviction of Dominic Ongwen for all 61 war crimes and crimes against humanity charged. The crimes confirmed included crimes such as murder, torture, “outrages upon personal dignity,” “sexual and gender-based crimes,” and the subjugation of children to hostilities. Mr. Ongwen was sentenced to twenty-five years of imprisonment.

Dominic Ongwen during the ICC Appeals Chamber hearing. Photo
curtesy of the International Criminal Court.

Ongwen’s confirmed crimes were committed in Northern Uganda between July 2002 and December 2005 during the time that Ongwen was a member, and Brigade Commander, of the Lord Resistance Army (LRA). The LRA rebelled against the government of Uganda and believed that anyone associated with the government of Uganda was their enemy. The LRA perceived the citizens of Northern Uganda, particularly the citizens living within “Internally Displaced Persons” camps, to be their enemy and, therefore, targeted them.

In confirming the Trial Chambers conviction, the ICC rejected the Defenses’ ninety grounds of appeal that were raised regarding the conviction and the additional eleven grounds of appeal that were raised regarding the sentencing. These attempted appeals included grounds for excluding criminal responsibility by way of mental disease or duress, violations to Ongwen’s right to fair trial, and challenges to the findings for Ongwen’s individual liability for crimes committed as an “indirect perpetrator” and as an “indirect co-perpetrator.”

This final confirmation at last ends the near decade long matter against Ongwen, liberating the 4,095 victims allowed to participate in this case and the innumerable more who have been touched by Ongwen’s crimes against humanity.

Reparations to victims are still being determined.


For further information, please see:

ICC – Case Information Sheet – The Prosecutor v. Dominic Ongwen – Dec. 2022

ICC — Ongwen Case – The Prosecutor v. Dominic Ongwen

ICC – Order for Submissions of Reparations – The Prosecutor v. Dominic Ongwen – 6 May 2021

ICC – Press Release – Ongwen Case – 15 Dec. 2022

Proceedings will continue against LRA Leader Vincent Otti for attacks against civilians and the Government of Uganda

By: Wendy Neeley

Impunity Watch News Staff Writer

Kampala, UGANDA – The International Criminal Court (ICC) recently made a ruling on the case of Vincent Otti. The prosecution has made a “Renewed Request to Terminate Proceedings against Vincent Otti on Account of His death.”

Two men that survived the massacre and live with bullets still in their bodies. Photo Courtesy of Justice and Reconciliation Project.

A warrant for the arrest of Vincenti Otti was issued in July of 2005. The warrant of arrest cites Otti’s connections with The Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). The LRA is an armed group that has been involved in attacks against the Government of Uganda and the Ugandan Army for over 30 years. The warrant alleges that the LRA is responsible for violence such as “murder, abduction, sexual enslavement, mutilation, as well as mass burnings of houses and looting of camp settlements; that abducted civilians, including children, are said to have been forcibly ‘recruited’ as fighters, porters and sex slaves.” Otti was included in the highest level of leadership for the LRA and he is charged with being criminally responsible for six attacks including one which is described as “hacking and shooting civilians.” He is also reportedly responsible for the Ataik Massacre of April 1995 during which LRA soldiers opened fire on 300 civilian men and boys while the women and children were required to watch and applaud the LRA.

However, in October of 2008, the prosecutors requested that the warrant for Otti be withdrawn and offered some preliminary information in support of the claim that Otti had died. Additionally, in March of 2022 the prosecution filed a request to terminate the proceedings against Otti based on his death. The prosecution claims that there is persuasive evidence that Otti was killed around October 2, 2007 in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The prosecution supplemented the claim in May 2022 based on information obtained from the Government of Uganda indicating that Otti was deceased. The evidence presented to the Court include witness statements, reports from media, and interviews from some Ugandan authorities.

However, in considering the evidence the court determined that it is not significant enough to prove the death of Otti. They indicate that there has been no body discovered and no official death certificate issued. As such, the Court determined that it would not be appropriate to terminate the proceedings against Otti and the prosecution’s request was rejected.


For further information, please see:

International Criminal Court – Decision on the Prosecution’s ‘Renewed Request to Terminate Proceedings against Vincent Otti on Account of His Death’ – 10 Dec. 2022

International Criminal Court – Warrant of Arrest for Vincent Otti – 8 July 2005

Liu Institute for Global Issues and the Gulu District NGO Forum – The Justice and Reconciliation Project: Field Notes, Remembering the Ataik Massacre April 20th 1995 – 04 Apr. 2007

NTV – How Vincent Otti’s son came to terms with his family’s history – 29 May 2021