Dominic Ongwen, against whom the International Criminal Court (ICC) has issued an arrest warrant for crimes against humanity and war crimes, is currently escorted by an ICC delegation that has left Central African Republic heading to the ICC detention centre in The Hague (Netherlands). On 17 January 2015, Dominic Ongwen was transferred to the ICC’s custody.
On behalf of the Court, the Registrar of the ICC Herman von Hebel thanked the United Nations and in particular the MINUSCA (the UN Mission for the Stabilization of the Central African Republic) for their support and cooperation in enabling Mr Dominic Ongwen’s transfer to the ICC. He also extended his appreciation to the authorities of the Central African Republic, Uganda, the United States of America, Belgium and the Netherlands (the ICC host State), as well as to the African Union, for their instrumental roles during this operation. The Court welcomed these joint efforts as a concrete expression of the international community’s commitment to the pursuit of justice.
“I strongly welcome the transfer of Dominic Ongwen to the custody of the Court, which constitutes an important success for the Rome Statute system nearly ten years after the issuance of the warrant of arrest against him,” said the President of the Assembly of States Parties (ASP) to the Rome Statute Minister Sidiki Kaba. “The affected communities will have the opportunity to see international justice address the horrific violence that took place in Uganda. I join the Court in its appreciation to all those States and organizations whose cooperation made possible the successful implementation of the Court’s decisions,” he added.
Upon arrival, Mr Ongwen will receive a medical visit and will appear, as soon as possible, before the Judges in the presence of a Defence Lawyer. The date of the initial appearance hearing will be announced soon. During the initial appearance hearing, the Judges of Pre-Trial Chamber II will verify the identity of the suspect and the language in which he is able to follow the proceedings. Mr Ongwen will be informed of the charges against him. The Judges will also schedule a date for the opening of the confirmation of charges hearing, a preliminary step to decide whether the case will be referred to a trial or not.
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 three counts of crimes against humanity (murder; enslavement; inhumane acts of inflicting serious bodily injury and suffering) and four counts of war crimes (murder; cruel treatment of civilians; intentionally directing an attack against a civilian population; pillaging) allegedly committed in 2004 within the context of the situation in Uganda.