Thursday, 24 May 2018

Dominic Ongwen Trial Monitoring Update: May 14, 2018

Psychiatric report reveals lifelong post trauma stress disorders among victims of sexual violence

On May 14, 2018, Mr.  Daryn Scott Reicherteran, a Professor of Psychiatry and Director of Human Rights in Trauma Mental Health Laboratory at Stanford University presented his report on the effects of sexual violence on survivors. The report revealed that victims of sexual violence suffer lifelong post trauma stress disorder (PTSD), and the effects extend to their families, children and their ability to operate in a social setting. In the report, he also stated that it is very rare for a survivor of rape to not have a long-term trauma effects and that almost no survivor of rape has complete wellness at any point in life. Prof. Daryn who is also a cross-cultural trauma-mental health expert was testifying in the trial of Dominic Ongwen at the ICC sitting in The Hague.

Ongwen has been charged with 70 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity for his alleged role in attacks on four camps for internally displaced people (IDP) between July 2002 and December 2005. He has pleaded not guilty to all counts.

Prof. Daryn told the court that Sexual violence affects victims at all stages of growth and that a child born of rape may not be accepted by the mother or the community, and other traits such as hard times completing school, lack of trust in self and in others, propensity to have love experience, and inability to recall events while in a court room, because they find it stressful to recount such events in front of strangers. He further told court that having flashbacks of bad events can affect the mental state that may compel survivors to develop syndromes such as avoiding important events in the society. Prof. Daryn further lamented that, “reintegration in family is a problem in most settings especially if the rape results in pregnancy, even harder in Northern Uganda basing on interviews with survivors and experts working in the region.” He also told court that, “if there are no resources/improvement in treatment facilities, it can be an aggravating factor of mental stress to victims. Treatment avenues should be provided whether at an early stage or later stage,” he said. In summary Prof. Daryn said survivors of sexual violence have more timid instabilities than expressed and that bad mental health state is a big thing to be addressed at all stages in this trial.
The Agency for Cooperation and Research in Development (ACORD) is a Pan African organization working for social justice in Africa with a specific focus on peaceful communities, sustainable livelihoods and healthy lives.  The Foundation for Justice and Development (FJDI) works with children, youth, women and communities to promote justice, development and economic recovery in northern Uganda. ACORD and FJDI are monitoring the trial of Dominic Ongwen with support from the European Commission, under a project titled, “Promoting Justice and Accountability for Conflict Affected Communities in Northern Uganda and West-Nile Regions of Uganda.

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