[JURIST] The International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] on Thursday opened the confirmation of charges hearing against accused Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) commander Dominic Ongwen [ICC materials]. This is the first major hearing for a leader of the LRA, and groups such as Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] have called it an important step for accountability [HRW report] for the crimes committed in Northern Uganda. Ongwen faces 70 charges of war crimes including keeping sex slaves and recruiting child soldiers. The hearing is expected to last three to five days, at which time the ICC will determine whether there is enough evidence to proceed.
Ongwen made his first appearance before the ICC last January amid opposition from the Ugandan government, which wished to try him in the country after his surrender [JURIST reports] earlier that month. The country’s attorney general assured the ICC in February that Uganda would cooperate [JURIST report] with his trial. The organization Invisible Children [advocacy website] opposes the actions of the LRA and has been instrumental in bringing to the forefront the efforts to capture accused leader Joseph Kony. In May 2012 a Major General of the LRA was captured [JURIST report] by force after having carried out an ambush in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The US government also aided in the protection of Ugandan citizens by introducing legislation [JURIST report] in early 2012 that would put in safe-guards in Uganda to prevent more attacks from Kony and the LRA.