By Moses Mulondo & Paul Kiwuwa
The chairman of Acholi parliamentary group Reagan Okumu has called for a truth and reconciliation commission to be established as former LRA top commander Maj. Gen. Dominic Ongwen is being tried at the International Criminal Court.
Addressing journalists at parliament, Okumu said the trial of Ongwen at ICC is a blessing in disguise as it will expose to the world the atrocities committed by both LRA and Uganda government during the northern insurgency.
“As people from Northern Uganda who have been advocating for truth telling about the atrocities that were committed in our area, we are happy for Ongwen’s surrender and transfer to ICC. It will help the world to know what happened,” he argued.
Ongwen was on Friday handed over to the ICC and was flown to The Hague in Netherlands to face trial for war crimes. He is among the top LRA commanders indicted for war crimes by ICC in 2005.
Okumu, who was addressing the press with former LRA abductee Titus Obali, explained that majority of LRA soldiers were abducted when they were young.
Obila, who was abducted at 15 years of age and escaped a year later, said he will go to Hague to testify that Ongwen is a victim of abduction just like him.
“About 90% of LRA rebels were abducted children and others born in captivity. In sociology, we are told children adapt to the situation they find themselves in. If ICC is fair, Ongwen will be set free because he was abducted into LRA as a child. He did not join willingly,” Okumu elaborated.
Government spokesperson Ofwono Opondo has since dismissed calls for a truth and reconciliation commission.
“I don’t think the truth and reconciliation commission is called for. We have the Uganda Human Rights Commission which investigates such cases,” he argued.
On whether government forces committed atrocities in the North, Opondo said, “The President recently said he had received fresh reports of abuses by UPDF soldiers during the northern conflict. He asked the CDF Gen. Katumba Wamala to carry out a review.”
Ongwen a victim of LRA war - former abductee