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Ongwen Trial Overshadows Kwoyelo's Domestic Prosecution

To address the confusion, Amooti says Uganda Law Society has developed a project to sensitize victims about their rights before the international crimes division of the high court and how they can access information in the court.
Dominic Ongwen During His Trial At the International Criminal Court ICC
The trial of former Lord's Resistance Army-LRA commander Dominic Ongwen at the International Criminal Court has overshadowed the domestic trial of Thomas Kwoyelo.

Kwoyelo was arrested by the UPDF in 2008 while Ongwen surrendered from the Central African Republic.

Jane Amooti, the legal representatives of victims at the International Crimes Division of the High Court says victims of the conflict in northern Uganda are confusing the court with the International Criminal Court (ICC). She says victims understand the ICC more than the International Crimes Division of the High Court (ICD) which was created after the Juba Peace Process with the Lord's Resistance Army.

To address the confusion, Amooti says Uganda Law Society has developed a project to sensitize victims about their rights before the international crimes division of the High Court and how they can access information in the court.

"There is confusion between how victims can report conflict-related crimes to the court from the ordinary criminal court system whose starting point is the local Council system and the police. This is why we want a reporting mechanism to guide victims in accessing justice" Amooti stated.

Amooti says logistical challenges have hindered the outreach department of the International Crimes Division of the High court from sensitizing victims and stakeholders of the court. Charges against Kwoyelo are yet to be confirmed.

Peter Katonene, the Legal Affairs Officer of Uganda Law Society says Uganda Law Society interviewed stakeholders of the ICD under a project funded by Knowledge Management Fund of the High court and discovered that victims were ignorant of activities of the court and the trial of Thomas Kwoyelo.

Katonene says many people perceive the ICD as a branch of the International Criminal Court and think Thomas Kwoyelo is also being tried by The Hague based court. He says the Court only mirrors the International Criminal Court in the implementation of the legal system put together for the International Criminal court and its related standards.

Kwoyelo's trial is stuck at the pre-trial stage while Dominic Ongwen is already standing trial before the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Kwoyelo is charged under Article 147 of the Fourth Geneva Convention of 12th August 1949 and section 2(1)(d) and (e) of the Geneva Convention Act, Cap 363 (Laws of Uganda).

He is accused of offenses allegedly committed in Uganda between 1993 and 2005 in contravention of Articles 1, 2, 8, and 287 of the constitution and Directives 111 and xxviii(b) of the National objectives and Directives Principles of State Policy, contained in the 1995 Constitution of the Republic of Uganda.