ICC Prosecutor meets the Deputy Attorney General
KAMPALA - The International Criminal Court (ICC) Prosecutor Mrs Fatou Bensouda on February 27 2015 met the Deputy Attorney General and State for Justice and Constitutional Affairs Hon Fredrick Ruhindi. Hon. Ruhindi who represented the Attorney General who is out of the country on official duties was accompanied by a team comprising the Director of Public Prosecutions, Hon. Justice Mike Chibita, the Minster in Charge of Northern Uganda, Ms. Amuge Rebecca Otengo, the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Foreign Affairs Amb. James Mugume, Commissioners and Directors and heads of departments at the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs. Mrs Fatou Bensouda is in Uganda on 5-day working visit to provide updates on the activities of her office, in particular in relation to the case of Mr Dominic Ongwen, and discuss issues of mutual interests.
The Deputy Attorney General in his opening remarks thanked the ICC Prosecutor for paying a visit to the Attorney General and noted that Uganda was committed to fighting impunity and ensuring accountability for international crimes - a gesture which was well stated with handover former LRA Commander Maj. Gen. Dominic Ongwen to the ICC.
He clarified misinformation by the press that stated that the Attorney General would offer legal representation to Dominic Ongwen at the ICC. Hon. Ruhindi emphasised that the state would not offer legal representation to Mr. Ongwen, a duty specifically mandated to the ICC.He also noted that the Amnesty Law is a major challenge in prosecuting international crimes nationally. However, he informed the Prosecutor that Government was committed to addressing the issue through the Transitional Justice Policy framework, wherein conditional amnesties will be provided.
Hon. Ruhindi further noted the need for victim participation and reparations, which would all be addressed with the transitional justice legal framework. Clarity was also made on Uganda’s relations with the ICC and in this regard he noted that complementarity can be undertaken at national level and hence there is need to consider reforms at international level. He also noted that need to promote universal acceptance to the Rome Statue.
On her part, Ms Fatou Bensouda in her remarks thanked the Attorney General for convening the meeting and expressed sincere gratitude to the Government of Uganda for the cooperation it has shown from the time of referral of the case of Joseph Kony in 2005, to the time of surrender of Dominic Ongwen todate.
She admitted that she at first "worried about the transfer of Ongwen to the Hague, but was convinced about Uganda’s stance on accountability". Mrs Bensouda informed the meeting that the purpose of her visit was to highlight the importance of the trial phase, the need to gather more information on the case of Ongwen considering that the case had not been active since the warrants were issued in 2005 a the ICC’s responsibility, to make sure prosecutions are effective.
She informed the Attorney General on the next steps towwards Ongwen's trial which include;
- Consideration of possibilities of investigating other crimes committed by Ongwen and hence prefer additional charges against him;
- An Application to the pre - trial chamber to have the case of Ongwen heard in January 2016;
- Visiting of the affected communities in the Northern Uganda;
- Deployment of an ICC investigative team in Uganda that will need assistance for the Ugandan counterparts.
- Making a specific request to share information with Uganda
In her concluding remarks, the ICC Prosecutor noted that there is need for the Government of Uganda to assist in witness protection. She also highlighted that cooperation will be important for the successful prosecution by the ICC.
Fatou Bensouda Fact File
Mrs. Fatou Bensouda of The Gambia was elected by consensus Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court by the Assembly of States Parties. Mrs. Bensouda was sworn in on 15 June 2012. Mrs. Bensouda had previously held the position of ICC Deputy Prosecutor (Prosecutions), having been elected with an overwhelming majority by the Assembly of States Parties on 8 August 2004 and serving as such until May 2012. Prior to her work at the International Criminal Court, Mrs. Bensouda worked as Legal Adviser and Trial Attorney at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) in Arusha, Tanzania, rising to the position of Senior Legal Advisor and Head of The Legal Advisory Unit.