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This statement made by the Registry, ICD is to notify and update the public and concerned stakeholders of the activities of the ICD surrounding the trial of Uganda versus Thomas Kwoyelo.

 

1.  The ICD has had an overwhelming response from the International community following the last statement. The ICD will look to continue its current momentum in order to bring justice to those who have not yet received it.

2.  The Registry, ICD Outreach team traveled to Gulu on the 28/07/15 with the aim of establishing a dialogue with invested parties in the community.

3. The Outreach team met with the outgoing judge in Gulu Hon. Lady Justice Margaret Mutonyi who has been serving at Gulu High Court for the last 3years.

 

4. The outreach team discussed the problems that Gulu and Northern Uganda currently face as a result of the conflict with Judge Mutonyi. Judge Mutonyi stressed the need to address the high rate of juvenile crime in Gulu. Most of the current perpetrators of juvenile crime in Gulu are children who are direct or indirect victims of the LRA war.

 

5. The Registry, ICD has established an information desk in Gulu specifically for the Kwoyelo trial. The desk is the point of contact for the ICD in Gulu. The aim of this desk is to provide accurate and timely information to the Gulu community and trial participants.

 

6. Anyone who wishes to access the services of the ICD Gulu desk should proceed to the library in the High Court of Gulu or contact the desk via: email - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by Telephone on : +256753620520

 

7. The outreach team made contact with the Refugee Law Project in Gulu who is working closely with the victims.

 

8. The ICD will be working closely with the Refugee Law Project throughout the Kwoyelo trial in order to provide the required support to victims.

 

9. The ICD recognizes the commendable work that the Refugee Law Project is doing in Northern Uganda.

 

10. The outreach team also travelled to Kitgum to gain an appreciation of the social landscape and the needs of the local community who were among those who suffered most from the conflict.

 

11. The Refugee Law Project has set up the National Memory and Peace Documentation Center in Kitgum which documents the timeline and events of the conflict in Northern Uganda. The ICD appreciates this effort, as remembrance and recognition is a crucial part of reconciliation.

 

12. The ICD Outreach team will travel to Gulu again in preparation for the pre-trial which is scheduled for the 15/08/16.

 

Any organisation interested in working with the High Court of Gulu and the ICD in the area of juvenile crime in Gulu should contact the registrar, ICD.

 

Issued on: August 2, 2016

 

Published in Latest News

This statement made by the International War Crimes Division (ICD) Registry is to notify the public and concerned stakeholders of the activities of the ICD surrounding the trial of Uganda versus Thomas Kwoyelo.

 

1.      The Supreme Court of Uganda ruled on the 08/05/2015 that the trial of Thomas Kwoyelo was constitutional and should continue. The Supreme Court concluded that the Amnesty Act does not grant blanket amnesty to all crimes committed during the rebellion, but only grants amnesty to crimes of a war-like nature (attached is the supreme court judgment).

 

2.      The ICD expects the pre-trial of Uganda versus Thomas Kwoyelo to take place on the 15/08/2016 in Gulu and the trial to take place during October of 2016.

 

3.      Since the decision to continue the trial, the ICD Registry has been conducting outreach programs throughout the Gulu region. The ICD Registry in partnership with the Ugandan Law society and Refugee Law Project is focusing their efforts on engaging with the victims and witnesses (V/W) in order to explain why the trial should take place and what the V/Ws should expect from the process.

 

4.      The ICD rules of procedure and evidence provide for the Ugandan government to offer reparation or compensation to qualifying V/Ws should the trial produce a conviction.

 

 

 

5.      The ICD has therefore appointed Counsel for Victims who have been calling for V/Ws to come forward and participate in the trial so as to be included on the victim index which index will be referred to during the reparation exercise.

 

 

6.      The ICD is currently moving to implement a V/W desk at the court in Gulu in order to centralize information for those concerned and to provide a point of contact for V/Ws.

 

 

7.      The ICD is investigating the possible use of local radio stations to broadcast important information surrounding the trial to the communities. It is the hope of the ICD that this measure will reduce confusion and demonstrate to the community that the trial is proceeding.

 

 

8.      The ICD has heard from a number of V/Ws that they have evidence of UPDF soldiers committing atrocities during the conflict. As a result, the ICD has made it clear that if credible evidence was brought against UPDF soldiers or commanders the case would be referred to the UPDF who have proven that they will court martial those who have committed crimes.

 

 

9.      The ICD is working alongside invested NGOs in the Gulu region to provide the best service to those who have been affected. The ICD invites interested NGOs to submit requests for further information.

 

 

 

10.  The ICD invites invested NGOs to explore the possibility of establishing themselves or returning to the Gulu region.

 

 

11.  The ICD wishes to work alongside NGOs in order to provide the highest level of care and support to those who have been affected by these alleged crimes and to assist with the reconciliation process that this trial is likely to bring about.

 

 

 

Registrar, International Crimes Division

 

July 26, 2016

 

 

Published in Latest News

 

In 2006, The Government of Uganda and the Lord’s Resistance Army commenced peace talks to end the conflict in Northern Uganda. In June 2007, the GoU and the LRA signed an, annexure to the final peace Agreement on Accountability and Reconciliation, which required the Government to establish both formal and non-formal justice mechanisms to address accountability and reparations for atrocities committed in Northern Uganda.

In line with the Juba Peace Agreement calling for the establishment of accountability mechanisms for crimes perpetrated during the conflict, the Government of Uganda established the War Crimes Division in 2008, now the International Crimes Division of the High Court, to try individuals suspected of committing war crimes in the country.

 

What is the International Crimes Division?

The ICD is a special division of the High Court, a national Court established in 2008, under the 1995 Constitution of the Republic of Uganda.  Originally, it was called the War Crimes Division. The International Crimes Division is not an international court. The ICD is not the International Criminal Court (ICC), or a branch of the International Criminal Court.

 

Where is the International Crimes Division located?

The headquarters is in Kampala, at Plot 8 Mabua Road, Kololo. The court may also sit in any other place in Uganda as the Chief Justice and the Principal Judge may decide.  

 

What kind of crimes will the International Crimes Division handle?  

The International Crimes Division deals jurisdiction over serious international crimes  as prescribed in  the Practice Directions of the ICD (Legal Notice No. 10 of 2011, gazetted 31 May 2011) these include; any offence relating to genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, terrorism, human trafficking, piracy, and any other crimes as prescribed by Law.

What laws can be applied by the International Crimes Division? 

The ICD shall apply the 1995 Constitution of the Republic of Uganda, the Geneva Conventions Act of 1964, the Penal Code Act Cap 120, and the International Criminal Court Act of 2010, governing international crimes, and any other relevant law. 

 

How many judges are there in the International Crimes Division? 

There are five Judges appointed to the ICD. They sit in a panel of three Judges at the war crimes proceedings. There is a Head of the Division and Deputy Head of Division. 

 

Which institution is responsible for bringing charges before the International Crimes Division? 

The Director of Public Prosecutions, on behalf of the people of Uganda, according to the Constitution of Uganda (Art. 120(3), of the 1995 Constitution of Uganda)

 The functions of the Director of Public Prosecutions are the following—

(a) to direct the police to investigate any information of a criminal nature and to report to him or her expeditiously;

(b) to institute criminal proceedings against any person or authority in any court with competent jurisdiction other than a court martial;

(c) to take over and continue any criminal proceedings instituted by any other person or authority;

(d) to discontinue at any stage before judgment is delivered, any criminal proceedings to which this article relates, instituted by himself or herself or any other person or authority; except that the Director of Public Prosecutions shall not discontinue any proceedings commenced by another person or authority except with the consent of the court.

 

What is the lifespan of the International Crimes Division?  

It is a permanent division of the High Court of Uganda.

 

Is the International Crimes Division the same as the International Criminal Court (ICC)?

No. The International Crimes Division is a Division of the High Court of Uganda. The ICC is an International Court, based in The Hague, The Netherlands. The two courts complement each other. 

 

What is the International Criminal Court? 

The International Criminal Court (ICC) is an international court that handles cases dealing with serious international crimes, specifically the crime of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. The ICC was established by the Rome Statute in 2002. Uganda ratified and domesticated the Rome Statute in June 2010 by enacting the International Criminal Court Act 2010, meaning that it is obliged to respect the obligations in this treaty. Specifically, Uganda has the duty to prosecute the listed crimes where they are committed in its territory. If Uganda is unable or unwilling to do so, the International Criminal Court may bring charges against offenders of such crimes, especially when the offenses were committed in Uganda after 2002.

For more information about the International Criminal Court, see www.icc-cpi.int

 

What is the maximum punishment for a war crimes case?

The maximum penalty under the Geneva Conventions Act is life imprisonment for grave breaches of wilful killing. 

 

What are grave breaches under the Geneva Conventions Act? 

‘Grave breaches’ of the Geneva Conventions are serious crimes committed in the context of an armed conflict. ‘Grave breaches’ of the Geneva Conventions is a term used to denote the seriousness of the offenses. The Geneva conventions defines grave breaches as crimes: “involving any of the following acts, if committed against persons or property protected by the Convention: willful killing, torture or inhuman treatment, including biological experiments, willfully causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health, and extensive destruction and appropriation of property, not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly.  ‘Grave breaches’ constitute war crimes, which are also prohibited under the Rome Statute of the ICC.

 

What is the role of the International Crimes Division?  

The role of the International Crimes Division is to hear the evidence presented by the Prosecution and any case presented by the Defence to raise serious doubt about the Prosecution case, and then to decide whether the accused is guilty or not guilty. 

 

What is the role of the registry of the International Crimes Division?

The registry provides administrative support to the International Crimes Division and coordinates all aspects of the trial. The Registrar heads the registry.

 

What is the role of Prosecutors?

Prosecutors guide the police in investigating a crime. If Prosecutors think there is sufficient evidence to prove that someone committed a crime, they institute a criminal case in a court. At trial, Prosecutors try to convince Judges that the accused committed the crimes. Prosecutors must prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt.  

 

What is the role of the CID(Criminal Investigations Department)

The CID investigates the cases, summon witnesses at the hearing stage, produce exhibits in Court, and Testify as investigators in the case. 

 

What is the role of the Defence?

The Defence speaks on behalf of the accused. They also try to convince the Judges that the accused did not commit the crimes and help ensure that the rights of the accused are protected.

 

What is the role of the Prisons Service?

The prisons service detains the accused in legally recognised places of detention, in good conditions and in accordance with accepted standards. The prisons produce the accused before courts as and when required. On acquittal, the prisons release the accused and on conviction, the prisons undertake to rehabilitate the accused. 

 

Will the prosecution and defence witnesses be protected? 

Yes. Measures are in place to ensure the safety of witnesses.

 

What kind of protection measures can be provided to witnesses? 

Protection measures that exist include; physical protection, internal relocation, external relocation, change of witness contacts. Other include protection of the witness’ identity, including withholding names from the press, shielding witnesses’ faces during testimony, and presenting sensitive testimony in closed court sessions. These measures can apply before, during, and after the trial. 

 

What remedies are available to victims at the end of a trial? 

Upon conviction of an accused, courts may order the accused to pay compensation or provide other remedies to victims. According to Article 50 of the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda, Any person, who claims that a fundamental or other right or freedom guaranteed under this Constitution has been infringed or threatened, is entitled to apply to a competent court for redress which may include compensation.

 

What kinds of evidence can be used by the Prosecution and Defence in criminal trials?

Evidence can include:

  • Testimony of witnesses in court
  • Written documents
  • Video recordings
  • Scientific reports and forensic evidence
  • Post mortem reports
  • Photographs
  • Clinical notes 

 

Who can be a witness in criminal trials?

Any Person who has information relevant to the trial. 

 

How can victims participate in criminal trials?

Current practice in Uganda is that victims can participate as witnesses if called by the Prosecution or defense to help the court decide whether the accused is guilty or not. Victims can also attend the hearings as members of the public. 

 

Can decisions of the International Crimes Division be appealed? 

Yes, to the Court of Appeal. 

 

How long do war-crimes trials last?  

Depending on how complex the case is and how many witnesses will testify, war crimes trials can take many months to conclude. There is no time limit; however, trials must be conducted without undue delay. 

 

Where can I get more information about the Kwoyelo case and the International Crimes Division?

One can get information from the JLOS website at www.jlos.go.ug or the Judiciary Website at www.judicature.go.ug  

 

What is the contact information of the International Crimes Division?

Please contact the ICD at www.judicature.go.ug

 

What role do NGOs, cultural leaders and other civil-society groups play in war-crimes cases at the International Crimes Division?  

They can play different roles. Examples include the dissemination of information about  the case, appearing as witnesses if called by one of the parties or the court, and Supporting victims and witnesses. They are also partners and stakeholders in the  administration of Justice. 

 

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ICD Frequently Asked Questions

ICD Brochure

Frequently Asked Questions on the Thomas Kwoyelo Trial

 

Published in Transitional Justice
Tuesday, 02 February 2016 13:28

Transitional Justice Working Group Membership

H W Tadeo Asiimwe - Judiciary

H W Margaret Tibulya - Judiciary (Alternate)

Ms. Melody Ginamia - Uganda Human Rights Commission

Ms. Freda Nalumansi - Uganda Human Rights Commission

Ms Florence Ochago - Law Reform Commission

Ms Jane Adongo - Law Reform Commission

Mr. Steven Mubiru - Law Development Centre

Mr. Aaron Besigye - Uganda Law Society

Published in Transitional Justice
Thursday, 04 February 2016 17:59

Dominic Ongwen ICC Pre-Trial: FAQ

 

Dominic Ongwen is a former second-in-command to Joseph Kony, within the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), who was surrendered to the Seleka rebels at the Central African Republic –South Sudan border in January 2015.  He is now in custody of the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Who is Dominic Ongwen?

Mr. Ongwen is an adult Ugandan allegedly born in 1975 in Amuru District, in northern Uganda.  He admits he is a former commander of the LRA and that he was abducted around the age of 14 years. 

 

What crimes is Dominic Ongwen accused of committing? 

Mr. Ongwen is accused of committing crimes against humanity and war crimes. 

Specifically, there are 70 charges against Dominic Ongwen – 34 crimes against humanity and 36 war crimes, as follows:;

  • 10 charges concern crimes committed in the Pajule IDP camp;
  • 13 charges concern crimes in the Odek IDP camp;
  • 13 charges concern crimes in the Lukodi IDP camp;
  • 13 charges concern crimes related to a 2004 attack on the Abok IDP camp;
  • 8 charges concern sexual and gender based crimes; 
  • 2 charges concern crimes of conscription and use of children under the age of 15 to participate in hostilities; and 
  • 11 other charges are confidential and have not been disclosed for the security of witnesses.

 

What are war crimes and crimes against humanity?

The Rome Statute provides for the laws under which Dominic Ongwen is being charged; these are but are not limited to;

Crimes against humanity include, but are not limited to:

  • Murder;
  • Extermination;
  • Enslavement;
  • Imprisonment or other severe deprivation of physical liberty in violation of fundamental rules of international law;
  • Torture;
  • Rape, sexual slavery, enforced prostitution, forced pregnancy, enforced sterilisation, or any other form of sexual violence of comparable gravity;
  • Enforced disappearance of persons; and
  • The crime of apartheid

These crimes MUST have been committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population, with knowledge of the attack.

War crimes are grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, 

which include but are not limited to:

  • Wilful killing  of civilians; 
  • Taking of hostages;
  • Extensive destruction of property;
  • Wilfully causing great suffering, or serious injury to body or health; and 
  • Torture or inhumane treatment. 

War crimes also include other serious violations of laws and customs, within the framework of international law which entail acts committed during international and non-international armed conflicts. Such war crimes specifically include;

  • Intentional attacks against the civilian population not taking direct part in the hostilities;
  • Attacking or bombarding  by whatever means, tons, villages, dwellings or buildings undefended and which are not military objects;
  • Killing or wounding treacherously individuals belonging to the hostile nation or army;
  • Committing rape, sexual slavery,  enforced prostitution, forced pregnancy; and
  • Conscripting or enlisting children under the age of fifteen years into the national armed forces or using them to participate actively in hostilities. 

*Please note that the list above is not exhaustive but illustrative.

 

When and where were the alleged crimes committed? 

The charges against Mr. Ongwen are for crimes committed in Northern Uganda, from 2002, specifically in the Districts of Lira, Apac, Pader, Gulu, Kitgum, Soroti, Katakwi and Kaberamaido.  

 

Which court will try Dominic Ongwen?

The ICC will try Mr. Ongwen. The Court is a permanent institution that has the power to exercise its jurisdiction over persons for the most serious crimes of international concern and it is complementary to national criminal jurisdictions.

The ICC has the power to try crimes committed only after it was established, or crimes committed after 1st July 2002.   He was one of the 5 persons indicted by the ICC who were to be tried once captured.  Of the Five, three of them; Vincent Otti (formerly Second in Command of the LRA), Raska Lukwiya, and Okot Odhiambo have been confirmed dead. Only Joseph Kony remains at large.

 

When did the trial against Mr. Ongwen start? 

Mr. Ongwen is the first LRA member to appear before the ICC. While some preliminary hearings have been held, Mr. Ongwen’s trial has not yet begun. In fact, the ICC had a hearing to confirm charges made against him from 21st January 2016 to 27th January 2016.

 

What does Confirmation of Charges mean?

According to the Article 61(1) of Rome Statute, the Pre- Trial Chamber must hold, holds a hearing to confirm the charges on which the prosecution intends to seek trial.

In other words, confirmation of charges is a process to determine whether or not Mr. Ongwen has a case to answer.  After this determination is made, he can be released if there is no case or he can be further detained for trial, if there is sufficient evidence to establish substantial grounds to believe he committed any one of the counts alleged.

 

When will the trial begin?

The trial will only begin if the Judges in the Pre-Trial Chamber decide that Mr.Ongwen has a case to answer before the ICC. Once the ICC has made public the confirmation of charges decision, a date will be set for full trial. This will be determined within 60 days of 27th January 2016.

 

Will the trial be open to the public? 

Yes, in normal circumstances. For members of the public who cannot be in the ICC courtroom in the Hague, Netherlands, because of limited space, alternative viewing arrangements will have been organised outside the courtroom.  Weekly updates as well as video footage of public trials (with a 30 minute delay) are available at the ICC website: www.icc-cpi.int.

 

Does Dominic Ongwen have a lawyer?

Yes, he has Mr. Krispus Odongo Ayena, a Ugandan Lawyer, to lead his defence team and has also been represented by duty counsel in the pre-trial hearings.  The defence team consists of four members, including legal assistants.  

 

Who makes up the prosecution?

The Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) is one of the four organs of the ICC and is headed by Fatou Bensouda, the Prosecutor, who took office on 15 June 2012. 

The Office Investigates and Prosecutes genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes committed by nationals of a State Party or on the territory of a State Party on or after 1 July 2002, the date of entry into force of the Rome Statute. This is the team responsible for proving Ongwen’s guilt.

 

What are the fair-trial rights of the accused?

Dominic Ongwen has the same as the rights of any other accused, guaranteed by Article 66 and 67 of the Rome Statute.  These include and are not limited to the following:

  • The presumption of innocence, until proven guilty;
  • The right to be informed about his case in the language he fully understands and speaks;
  • The right to have adequate time and facilities for the preparation of his or her defence;
  • The right to be tried without undue delay;
  • The right to be present  in person at his or her trial;
  • The right to be afforded facilities to examine witnesses and to obtain the attendance of other witnesses before the court;
  • The right to have an interpreter without any cost; and
  • The right not to be compelled to confess guilt and to remain silent without such silence being considered in determination of his guilt or innocence.

 

 By Margaret Ajok, Advisor Transitional Justice (JLOS Secretariat) | Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more information

 Published: February 4, 2016

Published in Transitional Justice
Thursday, 23 October 2014 08:34

Transitional Justice

Overview

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.

 

Background

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.

 

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Transitional Justice Document Centre

Published in Priority Focus Areas

 

KAMPALA -- The Sector has developed a draft national policy on transitional justice which is an affirmation of Government of Uganda’s (GoU) commitment to national reconciliation, peace and justice. It reflects the core objectives of the Government of Uganda of ending impunity and promoting justice and reconciliation as a necessary precursor to sustainable development.

As part of its transitional justice initiatives, the Justice, Law and Order Sector has produced a documentary film that highlights community feedback and views on the transitional justice process in Uganda exploring themes such as amnesty, reparations, prosecutions/investigations, traditional justice mechanisms and children born in captivity.

This film premiered on May 21 2013 during the consensus building workshop to discuss the draft national transitional justice policy held at Imperial Royale Hotel, Kampala Uganda.

WATCH THIS VIDEO NOW!

You can also watch the video, titled "Voices of the People: A Community-led Transitional Justice Process in Uganda" by visiting the official JLOS YouTube Page.

 
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By This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. | Published: May 22, 2013
Published in Archived News
Wednesday, 13 July 2011 00:00

Special Report:The Kwoyelo Trial Begins

 

GULU - July 11, 2011 marked a historical event in the Ugandan judiciary with the trial of a former LRA (Lords Resistance Army) commander, Colonel Thomas Kwoyelo who was captured by the UPDF (Uganda People’s Defence Forces) in 2009 in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

This makes Uganda, the first African Country to try nationally those alleged to have committed war crimes and crimes against humanity, all crimes of international concern and the first country complementing the works of the International Criminal Court (ICC). A number of events took place before the actual presentation of the accused, Colonel Thomas Kwoyelo in court for plea taking at 12:00pm.

Published in Archived News

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.

The Agreement provides the overarching legal framework for the process of developing a transitional justice policy in Uganda. 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 to promote justice and reconciliation.

In order to achieve this, a number of specialized Sub-Committees were established within the TJWG to undertake research in specific areas, including: formal justice; traditional justice; truth-seeking; and integrated systems (developing an integrated approach to justice & accountability).

JLOS consultations in the area of formal justice were conducted in 2008 and led to the adoption of the International Criminal Court Act. The ICC Act reflects Uganda’s commitments within the Rome Statute creating the International Criminal Court. Namely, the ICC Act allows for the prosecution of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide within national courts.

The International Crimes Division of the High Court is charged with the duty of prosecuting war crimes and other crimes of a serious nature.

In 2011, JLOS undertook national consultations in the area of traditional justice and truth-telling. The report is expected to be adopted and launched by mid-2012 and will contribute significantly to the elaboration of the national policy and law on transitional justice. The report will make recommendations on the use and role of traditional justice and truth-telling for conflict related crimes.

At present, the TJWG is taking forward a review of the Amnesty Act. Conflicts in the law have come to light in the recent case of Uganda v. Thomas Kwoyelo, HCT-00-ICD Case No.0002 of 2012, which if not addressed will continue to frustrate the pursuit of justice against key persons responsible for war crimes. Given that the Amnesty Act (2000) is due to expire in May 2012, now is an opportune moment to conduct an assessment of the current role, purpose and impact of the Act, in contrast with its intended purpose at the time of its original enactment over ten years ago.

The review is being informed by a series of consultative meetings and specialized field studies on Amnesty. The consultations capture the views of community members, religious and traditional leaders, local government, parliamentarians, academics, civil society organizations and locally-based victims groups, as well as legal experts and transitional justice specialists. A variety of views have been expressed and captured for deliberation. Key considerations for the review include:

(1) The conflict of laws between Amnesty and co-existing national laws;
(2) The conflict of laws between Amnesty and international law obligations;
(2) The role and purpose of the Amnesty Act (past and present);
(3) The effects of the Amnesty Act;
(4) Community views and experience;
(5) Gender implications/Impact on women; and
(6) Amnesty within Uganda’s national transitional justice policy.

 

The review process is still currently underway, yet findings from the consultations revealed a consensus that amnesty in its current form cannot be sustained because it does not cater for accountability of crimes committed, either through formal or informal processes, and it does not adequately enable reintegration of reporters.

Further, there was strong support for the adoption of additional transitional justice mechanisms to promote truth-seeking and reparations, which were seen to be capable of delivering meaningful justice to victims and war-affected communities.

In most cases, there was agreement that Amnesty has outlived its originally intended purpose of promoting the end to hostilities, however there was reluctance by some to do away with Amnesty completely, if only to give the ‘captive’ youth still in the bush an opportunity to return home.

As such, the review will need to take into consideration all of the views and concerns expressed and propose the best way forward that responds to community views, the local context and expressed need for justice and accountability, while is at the same time remaining legally sound.

 In conclusion, the future of amnesty is intimately linked to the national transitional justice process underway in Uganda. As the TJWG develops the policy on transitional justice, amnesty will be coupled with other mechanisms that seek to promote justice, accountability and reconciliation that is context-relevant and responsive to victims’ rights and interests.

As such, the consultative process for developing a relevant policy has already begun. JLOS through its TJWG is committed to continuing the engagement with key stakeholders, civil society and victims’ organizations, to achieve these goals.

Published in Archived News

NEW YORK - The Honorable Minister of State and Deputy Attorney General - Hon. Fredrick Ruhindi on October 12-13, 2011 participated in an international meeting organized in New York by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) .

The conference was entitled “UNDP Policy Dialogue on ‘Complementarity’ and Transitional Justice”. The Honorable Minister made a presentation on the Role of Specialized Courts in Prosecuting International Crimes and Transitional Justice in Uganda.

The presentation highlighted Uganda’s numerous efforts made towards achieving complementarity in the area of criminal justice, and in line with its international obligations under the Rome Statute of the ICC. This was discussed within the context of the ongoing transitional justice process underway in the country.

 

By Nicole Ismene Zarifis

 

 

 

Published in Archived News
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