Global Politics

UGANDA: UGANDANS BORN DOCTOR EXPOSED INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL CASES EXPERIMENTAL TRIL AGAINST LORD’S RESISTANCE ARMY LRA

Questioned by Defence Counsel Beth Lyons, Dr Akina testified about three issues: 1) his early life and education, and 2) the mental state of the accused (having interacted with him numerous times at the detention center) during the charged period (2002 -2005). 3) The Four, medical and psychological reports that he co-produced after he assessed the accused.

 

 

The burden of proof has come to passed, the trial of Dominic Ongwen continued on Tuesday, 19th November 2919 with the testimony of the 53rd Defense witness Dr. Dickens Akena (D26-P0041).

A clinicalpyschiatrist who interacted and assessed the accused mental wellbeing and co-produced for reports.

Cord named “19 November 2019
Situation: Uganda
Case: The Prosecutor v. Dominic Ongwen”

GULU-UGANDA: The trial of Dominic Ongwen continued on Tuesday 19th November 2019 with the testimony of the 53rd Defence witness Dr Dickens Akena (D26-P-0041), a clinical psychiatrist who interacted and assessed the accused mental wellbeing and co-produced four reports on this regard between February 2016 and January 2019.

He co-authored his reports with Dr Ovuga, who will also take the stand during this evidentiary block. Some sensitive information regarding the accused was discussed in private sessions.  His four reports were added into evidence.

Questioned by Defence Counsel Beth Lyons, Dr Akina testified about three issues: 1) his early life and education, and 2) the mental state of the accused (having interacted with him numerous times at the detention center) during the charged period (2002 -2005). 3) The Four, medical and psychological reports that he co-produced after he assessed the accused.

Today Dr Akena further went into details about assessing the accused and what his conclusions were. About the accused mental state, Dr Akena confirmed, he and Dr Ovuga saw symptoms of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), Depression, Suicidal ideation, dissociative disorder while they were assessing Mr Ongwen.

The Defence Counsel asked the witness, how the accused was able to function with all those symptoms, Dr Akena explained that symptoms in mental ill patients fluctuate up and down and some patients even live their life but they are “struggling”, because “mental health will unleash suffering and it reduces your lifespan”.

In regards to Mr Ongwen the witness said that “He was functioning but he was struggling under a number of mental illnesses”.  Dr Akena noted that from his assessment of the accused, Mr Ongwen has been struggling for a long time. He further said that he has seen mental ill patients who adjust their lives so that they fit into society for a period of time.

About Mr Ongwen attempted suicide

About “feelings of remorse” Dr Akena explained that the accused had told him that the LRA environment was hostile and going off script or doing something that wasn’t prescribed was “very costly” and “deadly” and so showing remorse wasn’t an option. Dr Akena noted that the accused was exposed to many traumatic events while he was in the LRA and he wasn’t even allowed to “express himself” and seeing these traumatic events over time has a huge effect yet the body and the mind “has a way of dealing with trauma” over time period.

When asked to explain about resilience, Dr Akena said “Resilience is one’s ability to adjust, adapt and do anything within their means to survive a gruelling exercise”. So he further explained that different individuals who have faced trauma can either have resilience or not.

It’s not uncommon for some former child soldiers to develop resilience over time while in the LRA, while on the other hand; other former child soldiers who were in the same situation don’t develop resilience.

Each individual has their own mechanism they develop to cope with traumatic events and live in that hostile environment. And a former child soldier can be resilient today and tomorrow he is overwhelmed and dysfunctional he explained.

The witness tied his point of resilience to Mr Ongwen, who  is always seen as resilient yet, he tried to commit suicide a number of time in his adulthood, “sometimes the burden is too much and the body gives”, “Resilience has its limitation and you can’t be resilient all your life” he noted.

When asked to explain why Ongwen survived his 8 attempted suicides, Dr Akena said it’s not impossible to survive suicide attempts. He also noted that during the assessment the accused wished that he was shot and died (he has suicidal thoughts).

Distinguishing right from wrong was another topic that Dr Akena was questioned about. In this regard Dr Akena said that the accused having being abducted at a young age and was indoctrinated into the LRA, this affected his moral standings because abduction in itself has a significant impact on any individual.

Age during abduction –Dr Akena concluded- does make a difference when developing and reasoning abilities. Dr Akena gave examples of former LRA individuals who were older and they believed strongly in spirits yet there were other former, younger LRA individuals who didn’t believe in the spirits as the older ones.

About Mr Ongwen’s behaviour, Dr Akena said that during assessments, the accused is still “stuck in the 1980s”; the accused “wishes he had an opportunity to go back home and relearn things again”.

Dr Akena confirmed that a lot of things the accused has to re-learn again. Dr Akena also confirmed that Mr Ongwen has “child-like behaviour” such as “throwing tantrums like a child” at the Detention Center.

·         Cross-Examination of Dr Akena by the Prosecution

Dr Akena was also questioned today by OTP Senior Trial Lawyer, Benjamin Gumpert about 1) His four reports, 2) Mental state of the accused. About the assessing the accused, Dr Akena said that to confirm whether the accused information is reliable, he normally asks the Defence lawyers for relevant information and he also conducts interviews with Ongwen’s peers to check whether that information is indeed reliable or not.

When asked by Senior Trial lawyer, whether he questioned the accused about the charges brought against him, the witness replied “He said he didn’t commit crime…we focused on his mental health” and besides the witness said that asking about factual matter isn’t focus.

“That’s my expertise as a doctor, so I focused on his mental state during the charged period of 2002 -2005”.

The Senior Trial Lawyer also read out some of the notes from the Detention Centre’s doctor notes while assessing Ongwen. Dr Akena explained that clinical notes are to be explained in the context in which they are written.

If the doctor at the detention center said that Ongwen symptoms were stable, which is to mean that, those symptoms were stable compared to the last time the doctor saw the accused.

“the notes written in a clinical setting and you have to interpret it from previous notes and put it into the right context.” .

He further caution the Chamber about looking at notes that said that the accused was said to “be happy or jolly” or “symptoms didn’t show” because even depressed people have a good and bad days where symptoms fluctuates up and down he explained.

Dr Akena also discussed the accused “hearing voices”, “seeing his dead friends”, and he explained that individuals with PTSD “they will have flashbacks and intrusive thoughts; they will remember what traumatised them”.

Dr Akena also discussed in details other mental illness symptoms and instruments to measure and gauge the symptoms. When asked by the OTP senior Trial Lawyer whether the accused was faking mental illness, Dr Akena said that “we don’t see why the client would do that, the client is in distress and he doesn’t know what is going on mentally”.

Dr Akena also cautioned about normal people diagnosing a mental illness patient, because “we may mislead ourselves sometimes not all the time”. Dr Akena also talked about the accused two personalities: Dominic A and Dominic B, who according to the accused wrestle with each other on whom will control the accused. Dr Akena concluded that the accused was indeed mentally ill, before the charged period and during the charged period. With a few follow up the witness concluded his testimony.

The trial will continue on Thursday, 21st November 2019 with the testimony of the 54th Defen

UGANDA: UGANDANS BORN DOCTOR EXPOSED INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL CASES EXPERIMENTAL TRIL AGAINST LORD’S RESISTANCE ARMY LRA

The burden of proof has come to passed, the trial of Dominic Ongwen continued on Tuesday, 19th November 2919 with the testimony of the 53rd Defense witness Dr. Dickens Akena (D26-P0041).

A clinicalpyschiatrist who interacted and assessed the accused mental wellbeing and co-produced for reports.

Cord named “19 November 2019
Situation: Uganda
Case: The Prosecutor v. Dominic Ongwen”

GULU-UGANDA: The trial of Dominic Ongwen continued on Tuesday 19th November 2019 with the testimony of the 53rd Defence witness Dr Dickens Akena (D26-P-0041), a clinical psychiatrist who interacted and assessed the accused mental wellbeing and co-produced four reports on this regard between February 2016 and January 2019.

He co-authored his reports with Dr Ovuga, who will also take the stand during this evidentiary block. Some sensitive information regarding the accused was discussed in private sessions.  His four reports were added into evidence.

Questioned by Defence Counsel Beth Lyons, Dr Akina testified about three issues: 1) his early life and education, and 2) the mental state of the accused (having interacted with him numerous times at the detention center) during the charged period (2002 -2005). 3) The Four, medical and psychological reports that he co-produced after he assessed the accused.

Today Dr Akena further went into details about assessing the accused and what his conclusions were. About the accused mental state, Dr Akena confirmed, he and Dr Ovuga saw symptoms of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), Depression, Suicidal ideation, dissociative disorder while they were assessing Mr Ongwen.

The Defence Counsel asked the witness, how the accused was able to function with all those symptoms, Dr Akena explained that symptoms in mental ill patients fluctuate up and down and some patients even live their life but they are “struggling”, because “mental health will unleash suffering and it reduces your lifespan”.

In regards to Mr Ongwen the witness said that “He was functioning but he was struggling under a number of mental illnesses”.  Dr Akena noted that from his assessment of the accused, Mr Ongwen has been struggling for a long time. He further said that he has seen mental ill patients who adjust their lives so that they fit into society for a period of time.

About Mr Ongwen attempted suicide

About “feelings of remorse” Dr Akena explained that the accused had told him that the LRA environment was hostile and going off script or doing something that wasn’t prescribed was “very costly” and “deadly” and so showing remorse wasn’t an option. Dr Akena noted that the accused was exposed to many traumatic events while he was in the LRA and he wasn’t even allowed to “express himself” and seeing these traumatic events over time has a huge effect yet the body and the mind “has a way of dealing with trauma” over time period.

When asked to explain about resilience, Dr Akena said “Resilience is one’s ability to adjust, adapt and do anything within their means to survive a gruelling exercise”. So he further explained that different individuals who have faced trauma can either have resilience or not.

It’s not uncommon for some former child soldiers to develop resilience over time while in the LRA, while on the other hand; other former child soldiers who were in the same situation don’t develop resilience.

Each individual has their own mechanism they develop to cope with traumatic events and live in that hostile environment. And a former child soldier can be resilient today and tomorrow he is overwhelmed and dysfunctional he explained.

The witness tied his point of resilience to Mr Ongwen, who  is always seen as resilient yet, he tried to commit suicide a number of time in his adulthood, “sometimes the burden is too much and the body gives”, “Resilience has its limitation and you can’t be resilient all your life” he noted.

When asked to explain why Ongwen survived his 8 attempted suicides, Dr Akena said it’s not impossible to survive suicide attempts. He also noted that during the assessment the accused wished that he was shot and died (he has suicidal thoughts).

Distinguishing right from wrong was another topic that Dr Akena was questioned about. In this regard Dr Akena said that the accused having being abducted at a young age and was indoctrinated into the LRA, this affected his moral standings because abduction in itself has a significant impact on any individual.

Age during abduction –Dr Akena concluded- does make a difference when developing and reasoning abilities. Dr Akena gave examples of former LRA individuals who were older and they believed strongly in spirits yet there were other former, younger LRA individuals who didn’t believe in the spirits as the older ones.

About Mr Ongwen’s behaviour, Dr Akena said that during assessments, the accused is still “stuck in the 1980s”; the accused “wishes he had an opportunity to go back home and relearn things again”.

Dr Akena confirmed that a lot of things the accused has to re-learn again. Dr Akena also confirmed that Mr Ongwen has “child-like behaviour” such as “throwing tantrums like a child” at the Detention Center.

·         Cross-Examination of Dr Akena by the Prosecution

Dr Akena was also questioned today by OTP Senior Trial Lawyer, Benjamin Gumpert about 1) His four reports, 2) Mental state of the accused. About the assessing the accused, Dr Akena said that to confirm whether the accused information is reliable, he normally asks the Defence lawyers for relevant information and he also conducts interviews with Ongwen’s peers to check whether that information is indeed reliable or not.

When asked by Senior Trial lawyer, whether he questioned the accused about the charges brought against him, the witness replied “He said he didn’t commit crime…we focused on his mental health” and besides the witness said that asking about factual matter isn’t focus.

“That’s my expertise as a doctor, so I focused on his mental state during the charged period of 2002 -2005”.

The Senior Trial Lawyer also read out some of the notes from the Detention Centre’s doctor notes while assessing Ongwen. Dr Akena explained that clinical notes are to be explained in the context in which they are written.

If the doctor at the detention center said that Ongwen symptoms were stable, which is to mean that, those symptoms were stable compared to the last time the doctor saw the accused.

“the notes written in a clinical setting and you have to interpret it from previous notes and put it into the right context.” .

He further caution the Chamber about looking at notes that said that the accused was said to “be happy or jolly” or “symptoms didn’t show” because even depressed people have a good and bad days where symptoms fluctuates up and down he explained.

Dr Akena also discussed the accused “hearing voices”, “seeing his dead friends”, and he explained that individuals with PTSD “they will have flashbacks and intrusive thoughts; they will remember what traumatised them”.

Dr Akena also discussed in details other mental illness symptoms and instruments to measure and gauge the symptoms. When asked by the OTP senior Trial Lawyer whether the accused was faking mental illness, Dr Akena said that “we don’t see why the client would do that, the client is in distress and he doesn’t know what is going on mentally”.

Dr Akena also cautioned about normal people diagnosing a mental illness patient, because “we may mislead ourselves sometimes not all the time”. Dr Akena also talked about the accused two personalities: Dominic A and Dominic B, who according to the accused wrestle with each other on whom will control the accused. Dr Akena concluded that the accused was indeed mentally ill, before the charged period and during the charged period. With a few follow up the witness concluded his testimony.

The trial will continue on Thursday, 21st November 2019 with the testimony of the 54th Defen

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