The International Criminal Court (ICC) has handed over assortment of video screening equipment to 23 select parishes from four case locations connected to the trial of former Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebel commander Dominic Ongwen.
Mr Ongwen is facing 70 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity at The Hague-based court in the Netherlands for his alleged role in attacks on Lukodi, Abok, Odek and Pajule displacement camps in northern Uganda between July 2002 and December 2005.
The equipment, which includes radios, generators, Dvd players, public address systems and television sets, were purchased under the “Access to Justice Project” being implemented by the ICC, with funding from the Danish Embassy.
The project aims at making the trial of Mr Ongwen more accessible to LRA victims in northern Uganda.
Speaking at the hand over event held in Gulu Town on Monday, the ICC’s outreach officer for Uganda, Ms Maria Kamara, said the equipment will expand the ICC’s continuous efforts to respond to the information demands of the communities affected on the trial of Mr Ongwen.
She said the equipment shall facilitate monthly screening of video recordings of the trial of Mr Ongwen in the case location areas, including Coorom village in Amuru District, the birth place of Mr Ongwen.
“This exercise sets in motion the very first objective of the access to justice project, which complements the numerous efforts we have made as court to reach out to victims and different stake holders, who have been yearning for the information related to the trial of Ongwen,” Ms Maria said.
The Danish Ambassador to Uganda, Mr Mogens Pederson, who presided over the event, said the ICC holds the mantle of ensuring that information on what is going on at the court is shared with affected communities and victims since it’s working towards bringing peace in the region.
“I do hope that by watching the screening of this trial, the victims and affected communities will find that justice is served. You [victims] have suffered violence for a long time, those who committed the atrocities should also be brought to justice and made accountable,” Mr Pederson said.
He also stressed that for the region to attain comprehensive and sustainable achievement, there is need for total reconciliation, truth telling and documentation of atrocities committed in the region.
Acholi Paramount Chief Rwot David Onen Acana II lauded ICC and the Danish Embassy for their initiative on access to justice project, adding that it will give hope to the entire community of northern Uganda that one day, they will get justice.
He, however, noted that much as the project focuses on access to justice for the people who were only affected by the atrocities committed by Mr Ongwen, a lot needs to be done for those who were affected by actions of other individuals.
“For the community in northern Uganda, especially in Acholi, we need to balance up the access to justice. I want to appeal to you and the donor institution to support the institutions that will provide other alternative of justice to the people in the region,” Rwot Acana said.
The handover ceremony was also attended by, among others, ICC officials, cultural, religious and political leaders, civil society organisations and affected community representatives.