Transitional Justice (TJ) describes the mechanisms and processes adopted in the after-math of armed conflict or following authoritarian regimes. The objective of transitional justice processes is to achieve justice and reconciliation in post-conflict societies for conflict related crimes, including war crimes, crimes against humanity and gross violations of human rights.
TJ has emerged as one of the key thematic areas for the Sector to address justice and reconciliation in the aftermath of the conflict in Northern Uganda. It aims to:
• Promote justice and accountability for past human rights violations and war crimes;
•Enhance access to justice and basic services for victims in Uganda’s conflict-affected areas, with emphasis on the rights of vulnerable groups (women, children); and
•Contribute to strengthening the rule of law across the country, especially in areas where justice sector institutions and service delivery have been weakened by conflict.
The transitional justice process in Uganda therefore is one that seeks to be comprehensive, holistic and victim-centered. It seeks to achieve this through a consultative and participatory process involving victims, war affected communities, civil society organizations, cultural and religious leaders, local government and other stakeholders.
In 2008, the Justice Law and Order Sector (JLOS) established the Transitional Justice Working Group (TJWG), a special policy-making entity to develop a national policy and law on transitional justice for Uganda. The national policy is intended to give effect to the commitments made in the Agreement on Accountability and Reconciliation (Annexure to the Juba Peace Agreement), which calls for the promotion of formal and informal accountability mechanisms to address the crimes committed during the twenty-year long conflict. A number of specialized Sub-Committees were established within the TJWG to undertake research in specific areas and to inform the development of the national Transitional Justice Policy. The Sub-Committees are grouped according to the following areas: formal justice; traditional justice; truth-seeking; and integrated systems (developing an integrated approach to justice & accountability).
National Transitional Justice Policy
The National Transitional Justice Policy will be developed according to provisions in the Juba Agreement on Accountability and Reconciliation (2007). Unique features of the Agreement include: an emphasis on victims’ rights and participation, special attention to the situation of women and children who were affected by conflict, and the promotion of a holistic approach to justice, highlighting a complementary and harmonized approach to justice through the adoption of both formal and informal mechanisms.
The policy will therefore address issues of justice and reconciliation through a number of methods, including: criminal justice processes, truth-telling, traditional justice mechanisms, reparations, and social reintegration of conflict affected communities, including amnesty reporters and victims of serious violations.
Transitional Justice: Looking forward (SIP III)
Transitional Justice features as a priority area within the JLOS Third Strategic Investment Plan. The SIP III is a 3-4 year plan guiding the work of the Sector to achieve certain objectives, including: strengthening the rule of law, access to justice and human rights promotion and accountability. JLOS is in the process of supporting a national dialogue on transitional justice and strengthening the capacity of the entire justice system (both formal and informal) in Northern Uganda with particular sensitivity to the needs of women and children.
Overall objective of TJ in SIP III: To develop and implement a comprehensive transitional justice policy and legal framework covering formal justice, traditional justice mechanisms, truth telling, reparations, as well as reconciliation and reintegration.