Browse by Region
Uganda: ICC Press Release, Latest News and Opinions
26 Apr 2010
Please find below information about recent developments related to the International Criminal Court's investigation in Uganda.
This message includes a press release from the ICC (I), as well as latest opinion pieces (II) and news articles (III).
Please take note of the Coalition's policy on situations before the ICC (below), which explicitly states that the CICC will not take a position on potential and current situations before the Court or situations under analysis. The Coalition, however, will continue to provide the most up-to-date information about the ICC.
I. ICC PRESS RELEASE
Please note that this document has been produced by the ICC. The Coalition for the ICC distributes it as part of its mandate to inform member organizations and individuals about ICC-related developments. The document does not reflect the views of the CICC as a whole or its individual members.
i. 'ICC meets with legal practitioners in Kampala', ICC Press Release, 19 April 2010, http://www.icc-cpi.int/NR/exeres/E6AFCC06-7ED3-4337-8657-C859A06279D8.htm
"The ICC Field Outreach Unit today concluded a one-day workshop with members of the Ugandan legal community at the Grand Imperial Hotel, Kampala. The workshop was organised in partnership with the Uganda Law Society and brought together fifty lawyers currently practising at the Ugandan national courts.
The objective of the workshop was to provide lawyers with updates about the activities of the International Criminal Court (ICC), as well as stimulate their interest to enlist in the List of Counsel to enable them practice at the ICC. The need for Ugandan counsel, and particularly of female counsel, to enlist in the ICC List of Counsel was identified with the realisation that there are few Ugandan lawyers to have expressed interest in this area.
The workshop was also aimed at encouraging lawyers with extensive academic and/or professional expertise in an area of work relevant to or related to the Court to participate on the Court's Visiting Professional Programme.
Opening the workshop, Honourable Justice Elizabeth Ibanda Nahamya, judge of the Special War Crimes Division of the High Court of Uganda, emphasised the need for Ugandan lawyers to acquire international experience and expertise by practicing at the ICC in order to gain relevant experience and expertise.
The main topics of discussion included an overview of the activities of the ICC, victim participation and reparation processes, the activities of the Trust Fund for Victims and the Review Conference of the Rome Statute. Many of the questions centred on the requirements for counsel to practice at the ICC, victims' participation and reparation, the co-operation of States Parties and the independence of the ICC.
A former president of the Uganda Law Society, Mr Rubemba Nkunzingoma Deo, thanked the ICC for bringing the Court to members of the legal fraternity, and urged lawyers to take advantage of the call for them to practice at the ICC. ..."
II. RELATED OPINIONS
i. "NGOs lauds ICC work in the North," By Barbara Among (New Vision), 5 April 2010, http://www.newvision.co.ug/D/8/13/715292
"A group of non-governmental-organisations have expressed satisfaction at the workings of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in Uganda.
They attributed the peace that has prevailed in northern Uganda since 2006 to the court.
The organisations also attributed the passing of the ICC Bill by Parliament last month to efforts of the court.
'The ICC played a big role in northern Uganda, people can now sleep,' said the project co-ordinator of the Uganda coalition on the criminal court, Freda Apio.
The legal aid to Ruhakana Rugunda, Uganda's permanent representative to the United Nations, agreed with the group. 'The impact of the ICC on Uganda has been good,' said Duncan Muhumuza.
He said the leaders of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) rebels were forced to a discussion table because of the pressure mounted by the ICC to arrest them.
... The NGO group was speaking at a press conference to announce the up-coming ICC review conference in Uganda.
... The conference, slated to take place at the end of May, will discuss the amendment of the statute among member states.
The impact of the statute on victims, affected communities, peace processes and peace building will also be discussed.
Also on the agenda is the question of complementality, universality of the statute and the impunity gap. State co-operation with the International Criminal Court will also be discussed.
The organisations which participated include the Human Rights Network Uganda, Uganda Coalition on the ICC and No Peace Without Justice."
ii. "Fresh Concerns About Women in Captivity," by Evelyn Matsamura Kiapi (IPS), 20 April 2010, http://ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=51122
"The fate of thousands of women and girls held as sex slaves and child soldiers by Uganda's Lords Resistance Army rebels hangs in the balance.
... The delay in signing a peace agreement between the government of Uganda and the LRA has raised fresh concerns about their fate.
... 'The women in captivity have actually always been forgotten. We must advocate for them. They are still suffering,' says Jane Adong Anywar, Legal Officer at the Women's Initiative for Gender Justice, an organisation advocating for justice for women in armed conflict and war through the International Criminal Court.
... Women activists are calling on government, the LRA, the U.N. Security Council and the ICC to make clear their positions on efforts towards peace, reconciliation and justice for the women of northern Uganda.
'We would like the International Criminal Court to come up clearly and give their stand - as concerns the northern Uganda war - because even the final peace agreement has never been signed,' Judith Acana, secretary of gender at the Greater North Women's Voices for Peace Network, told IPS.
... Women fear that without a final peace pact, the rebels could regroup and cause further instability in the region.
'If the LRA does not sign the peace agreement, these women and children will never be rescued and more women will suffer without justice being done,' Acana says.
But Okello Oryem, Uganda's Minister for International Affairs stressed that government will not hold further talks with the rebels.
'There is no peace process in northern Uganda. The talks are finished. If we get [LRA leader Joseph] Kony, we shall arrest him,' he told IPS in a telephone interview. The military is now hunting for rebel leader Joseph Kony, he says, as the government cannot negotiate peace with a person who has an arrest warrant on his head.
... Ugandan women raise their concerns over the breakdown of talks and the military option as gender activists, peace mediators, jurists, Nobel laureates, political leaders and others gather in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, to discuss ways of advancing gender justice through implementation of the Rome Statute and the ICC.
The International Gender Justice Dialogue from Apr. 19-21 will also seek to engage other institutions, including regional human rights courts and commissions and the U.N. Security Council.
Convened by Women's Initiatives for Gender Justice and the Nobel Women's Initiative, this conference comes ahead of the 10-year Review Conference on the Rome Statute and the ICC, set to take place in Kampala, Uganda at the end of May.
But Ugandan women activists caution that while the Mexico deliberations should go a long way in strengthening women's participation in peace and reconciliation processes, they may mean little unless a peace agreement is signed.
'The women at the grassroots are so helpless. They have given up on justice because none of the culprits have been caught and prosecuted. Also, poverty is killing them,' says Acana. ..."
iii. "Uganda's battered women in long wait for justice," by Evelyn Lirri (The Monitor), 17 April 2010, http://www.monitor.co.ug/SpecialReports/-/688342/900446/-/fv13so/-/index.html
"Sexually and physically abused women in Uganda are faced with difficulties in trying to see the perpetrators brought to justice. As a result, most abusers go unpunished. Often times, the women are let down by the notoriously slow justice system. Many live in bitterness and anguish, writes Saturday Monitor's Evelyn Lirri.
... The trauma and frustration brought by the disorienting experience of living in the inhospitable conditions of an internally displaced persons' camp has also been blamed for turning many men in the war-ravaged north into unusually brutal individuals. But violence against women is not restricted in war settings, it is a national challenge.
The Uganda Demographic and Household Survey of 2006 shows that at least 60 per cent of women in the country say they have experienced physical violence in their lifetime. According to the report, the majority of gender-based violence against women is committed by an intimate partner.
It also shows that women are four times more likely than men to be targeted for both physical and sexual violence.
... Titled "I Can't Afford Justice - Violence against women in Uganda continues unchecked and unpunished", the report reveals that the criminal justice system is grossly inadequate, particularly in ensuring the protection of women and girls from sexual and gender-based violence.
This, the report notes, has led to continued beatings in homes that have routinely forced women to suffer silently in violent marriages, reducing their chances of accessing justice.
'The failure of the government to protect and support victims of sexual violence undermines the quest for justice. Lack of government resources and political will mean that perpetrators rarely face justice,' said Widney Brown, a senior director at Amnesty International. According to the report, 65 per cent of girls and women interviewed admitted that they had never contacted the police or anyone else after a sexual assault due to the limited availability of formal services and fear of stigma.
The report reveals that often times, because police stations are under-resourced, victims of domestic violence are asked by the police to give money to arrest and transport suspects, along with money to photocopy supporting documents and airtime.
Poverty inhibits women and girls from reporting domestic violence crimes. In most parts of the country, reporting to a police station involves a long and costly journey, yet most victims of domestic violence are often economically dependent on their abuser. Many choose to suffer silently.
... The report says the police are also not fully trained in how to handle cases of gender-based violence. Such demands, the report notes, had drastically reduced public faith in the police and the criminal justice system in general.
... In other instances, victims of gender-based violence are often turned away from police stations because of lack of shelters to keep them while their cases are being pursued. The report says the few legal aid institutions are also overwhelmed by cases.
... Gender rights activists agree that the police and justice system has been notoriously frustrating for victims of domestic crimes. Most victims interviewed during the study claimed that the police were reluctant to investigate domestic violence, saying it is a matter that can be addressed from home.
... Women activists are now putting their hopes on the Domestic Violence Act which President Museveni assented to last month to offer more protection to victims of domestic violence and also punish the crime perpetrators. Other laws that activists hope will save women from being battered are the Marriage and Divorce Bill, the Sexual Offences Bill and the Trafficking in Persons Bill.
They say with the new law in place, perpetrators will no longer be able to count on the culture of impunity. In the absence of a law, countless men have been getting away of with assaulting and sexually abusing women.
... The Amnesty report suggests that effective criminal justice mechanisms are required to deal appropriately with perpetrators of violence. 'They are also important for a survivor's recovery in showing that society as a whole condemns what has happened to her and will act to ensure that this will not happen in future,' it reads. ..."
iv. "ICC Bill - Why Did MPs Trap Museveni And Save Kony?", by Isaac Mufumba (The Independent), 31 March 2010, http://independent.co.ug/index.php/column/insight/67-insight/2702-icc-bill-why-did-mps-trap-museveni-and-save-kony
"The International Criminal Court Bill 2006, that was passed on March 10, (more than five years after it was first tabled before parliament) continues to raise eyebrows.
... Issues such as the timing of the passing of the Bill, its contradiction of the provisions of the constitution that grants immunity to a sitting president and the President's comments about the Bill are attracting a lot of attention.
.... The Bill was first tabled in December 2004 but was never debated by the 7th parliament. It was once again tabled on 5th December 2006, making it the first Bill to have taken such a long time to be passed.
So why was it passed at this time, 10 years after Uganda ratified the Rome Statute and 53 months after the first candidates for appearance before the local chapter of the ICC court were first indicted by the ICC?
... Sources within the corridors of parliament say that the Bill was pushed through as part of Kampala's preparations to host the first review conference, which is highly expected to drastically change the mandate of the ICC.
During the conference, which is to run between May 31 and June 11, the Assembly of State Parties to the Statute is expected to determine how the ICC functions in future and to influence the struggle for global human rights.
Ruhindi dismisses talk of a stampede saying that action on the Bill was actually belated.
'We ratified it [Rome Statute] in 2002. Immediately we were bound to cooperate with the ICC in prosecuting any person. Besides, it is a legal requirement that international treaties of which Uganda is a signatory are domesticated,' he says...."
v. "Is Kony's luck running out as USA joins the hunt for him?", by Kyle Beaulieu (The Independent), 13 April 2010 http://www.independent.co.ug/index.php/reports/special-report/71-special-report/2765-is-konys-luck-running-out-as-usa-joins-the-hunt-for-him-
III. LATEST NEWS
i. 'Kony's Deputy Otti Still Wanted - ICC', The Monitor, 15 April 2010
'The International Criminal Court has said the warrant of arrest issued against the Lord's Resistance Army's second in command, Vincent Otti still stands despite reports of his death.
'Until the judges publicly announce to us that Otti is dead, the official position of the court is that he is alive until proven otherwise,' the ICC field outreach coordinator in Kampala Maria Mabinty Kamara told reporters today.
Ms kamara said that investigations to establish whether Otti is indeed dead or alive are still ongoing...."
ii. 'Govt withdraws Kony motion', by Joyce Namutebi and Henry Mukasa (New Vision), 15 April 2010, http://www.newvision.co.ug/D/8/13/716432
"Internal affairs state minister Matia Kasaija on Tuesday withdrew a motion seeking to make the Lord's Resistance Army leader, Joseph Kony, and three others ineligible for amnesty.
Kasaija withdrew the motion following protests from opposition MPs. Kony and his top commanders were indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC).
A letter by the internal affairs permanent secretary, Stephen Kagoda, supporting efforts to deny Kony amnesty was also circulated to MPs...."
iii. 'LRA rebels can use amnesty to escape trial- judge', UG Pulse, 15 April 2010, http://www.ugpulse.com/articles/daily/news.asp?about=LRA+rebels+can+use+amnesty+to+escape+trial-+judge&ID=14181
"The Principal Judge, James Ogoola has said the LRA rebels and other bandits who have committed crimes against Ugandans can use the current Amnesty law to escape trial.
The Uganda Amnesty Act pardons Ugandan who denounces their rebel activities against the elected government of Uganda.
... Ogoola says this weakness in the country's laws can be used by people like Joseph Kony, the leader of the notorious LRA rebels to escape trial.
Ogoola calls for a review of Uganda amnesty Act to cater for the presence of the International Criminal Court and put their a clause in the act that punishes ring leaders of the rebellions even as along as they have applied for amnesty."
iv. "Uganda's LRA attacks kill 26", News24/AFP, 30 March 2010, http://www.news24.com/Content/Africa/News/965/69c64202e5db44d787c7eb5c78bf381d/30-03-2010-05-15/Ugandas_LRA_attacks_kill_26
"New attacks by the Ugandan rebel Lord's Resistance Army left 26 fighters and civilians dead, including a woman burnt alive, with at least 40 people abducted, officials said on Tuesday.
The attacks were revealed after Human Rights Watch claimed on Sunday the rebel group massacred 321 people in December in a previously unreported incident in neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo, a charge which has been disputed...."
v. "LRA leader has left Sudan's Darfur - Ugandan army", Sudan Tribune, 3 April 2010, http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article34622
"Joseph Kony, leader of the Ugandan rebel Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) has left western Sudan and crossed back into the Central African Republic (CAR) due to food shortages, Uganda's army said on Friday [2 April].
... The Sudanese army denied harboring the Ugandan rebel leader who is wanted by the International Criminal Court...."
vi. Otunnu to be quizzed today over LRA cash comments, by Richard Wanambwa and Isaac Khisa (The Monitor), 16 April 2010, http://www.monitor.co.ug/News/National/-/688334/900348/-/wxuw23/-/
"Mr Olara Otunnu will appear before police today to help in investigations over claims he made about the conduct of the LRA war.
... The police are investigating Mr Otunnu over claims he allegedly made that President Museveni funded rebel leader Joseph Kony...."
vii. "Ugandan army says LRA leader in DR Congo to reorganize fighters", Xinhua, 5 April 2010, http://www.indymedia-letzebuerg.net/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=47992&Itemid=28
viii. "Rebels blamed for Central African Republic deaths", Washington Post/AP, 30 March 2010, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/03/30/AR2010033002115.html
ix. "Govt withdraws Kony motion," by Joyce Namutebi and Henry Mukasa (New Vision), 15 April 2010, http://www.newvision.co.ug/PA/8/13/716432
x. "[US] Senate passes resolution condemning proposed anti-homesexuality bill in Uganda," Resolve Uganda, 15 April 2010, http://www.resolveuganda.org/node/1000
CICC's policy on the referral and prosecution of situations before the ICC:
The Coalition for the ICC is not an organ of the court. The CICC is an independent NGO movement dedicated to the establishment of the International Criminal Court as a fair, effective, and independent international organization. The Coalition will continue to provide the most up-to-date information about the ICC and to help coordinate global action to effectively implement the Rome Statute of the ICC. The Coalition will also endeavor to respond to basic queries and to raise awareness about the ICC's trigger mechanisms and procedures, as they develop. The Coalition as a whole, and its secretariat, do not endorse or promote specific investigations or prosecutions or take a position on situations before the ICC. However, individual CICC members may endorse referrals, provide legal and other support on investigations, or develop partnerships with local and other organizations in the course of their efforts.
Communications to the ICC can be sent to:
P.O. box 19519
2500 CM the Hague