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Wednesday, 12 November 2014 09:05


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Thursday, 23 October 2014 08:34

Transitional Justice

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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

Transitional Justice features as a priority area within the JLOS 4th Strategic Development Plan. The SDP 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.



Transitional Justice Document Centre

Tuesday, 21 October 2014 12:54

Human Rights and Accountability

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The Human Rights and Accountability Working Group is a thematic sub-structure of the JLOS Technical Committee that is responsible for the development and oversight of sector interventions to strengthen and promote human rights and accountability programs, processes and structures.

The Working Group enables deeper consideration of human rights issues within the broad spectrum of enhancing access to justice for all, specially the vulnerable persons. This is a response to the need for more effective and better institutionalized linkages that was identified in the JLOS Mid Term Review as affecting the level of impact and implementation of JLOS programs. Therefore, the Group is a key driver in improving the promotion, protection and respect of human rights within JLOS institutions and also ensuring accountability in service delivery.


The Working Group is an extension of the JLOS Technical Committee and offers in-depth consideration of JLOS interventions that is otherwise not be possible in the Technical Committee. The Working Group reports to the Technical Committee for decisions related to resource allocation and management. It is resourced by the JLOS Advisor for Human Rights and Accountability, whose mandate includes providing technical advisory support, coordinating the Group’s activities and acts as the link to the JLOS secretariat.

Mandate and Functions
The mandate of the Group is to support the Technical Committee in the implementation of the JLOS SDP and in monitoring and evaluation of JLOS interventions.

The Group has to ensure that issues concerning the Human Rights and Accountability component influence the agenda of the Technical Committee and Steering Committee, and bring to the fore emerging issues of national importance.

The Working Group handles matters relating to;
1.    Promotion and protection of human rights at individual and institutional levels;
2.    Promotion of internal and external JLOS accountability;
3.    Adoption and implementation of the Anti-corruption measures in JLOS;
4.    Promotion of accountability in Transitional Justice, and
5.    Handling emerging broader human rights and accountability thematic issues.

The Human Rights and Accountability Working Group has various functions that include;
a.    Promote observance of human rights and accountability within JLOS MDAs;
b.    Identify constraints to the achievement of the Human Rights and Accountability programs to the sector structures for redress;
c.    Monitor and evaluate the implementation of the Human Rights and Accountability Reform Programs;
d.    Prepare analysed and comprehensive progress reports on Human Rights and Accountability programs within the overall program for the Technical Committee;
e.    Recommend relevant changes to JLOS SIP III implementation activities as necessary;
f.    Respond to issues raised by the Technical Committee, Steering Committee and Leadership Committee;
g.    Benchmark the JLOS Human Rights and Accountability interventions against other successful sectors/models;
h.    Support sector publicity;
i.    Support the sector in lobbying for funds;
j.    Develop action plans and budgets for the Human Rights and Accountability component;
k.    Perform any other tasks that may be assigned by the Technical Committee. 

When implementing its functions, the Group is obliged to continually mainstream cross-cutting issues  (such as poverty, gender, conflict, HIV-AIDS , and environment) in all activities and also focus on pro-poor programming, low cost but efficient initiatives, vulnerable groups, and bear sensitivity to conflict/post conflict affected areas.

The Working Group is required to provide a work plan supported with a procurement plan to the JLOS secretariat at the end of each financial year.

In line with SDP:
1.    To the extent possible, each JLOS institution is required to nominate at least two (2) suitable representatives to the Working Group. One is be a senior technical person knowledgeable in the thematic area, and an alternate.
2.    Civil Society Organizations and private sector bodies are expected to express interest in participating in the Working Group. Once deemed relevant and admitted to the Group, a CSO is required to nominate one suitable representative to the Working Group.

The selected representatives/members are expected to:
1.    Attend meetings regularly and participate in the activities of the Working Group;
2.    Provide feedback and report on  implementation of programs;
3.    Provide their respective institutions with reports and updates on the work of the Working Group.

Membership of the Working Group shall be drawn from the 17 JLOS institutions and non-State actors. The Working Group may also co-opt persons from other institutions if the matter under discussion so requires. The current membership of the working group is as follows;

JLOS Institutions
1.    Uganda Law Society (ULS)
2.    Judiciary
3.    National Community Service Program (NCSP)
4.    Non-Government Organisations’ Board (NGO Board)
5.    Amnesty Commission (MIA-AC)
6.    Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP)
7.    Uganda Prisons Service (UPS)
8.    Judicial Service Commission (JSC)
9.    Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development (MoGLSD)
10.    Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC)
11.    Law Development Centre (LDC)
12.    Ministry of Justice & Constitutional Affairs (MoJCA)
13.    Uganda Law Reform Commission (ULRC)
14.    Uganda Police Force (UPF)
15.    Department of Citizenry and Immigration Control (DCIC)
16.    Uganda Law Council (ULC)
17.    Centre for Arbitration and Dispute Resolution (CADER)
18.    Tax Appeals Tribunal (TAT)
19.    Uganda Registration Services Bureau (URSB)
20.    Ministry of Local Government (Local Council Courts)

Non-State Institutions
1.    Independent Development Fund (IDF)
2.    National Union of Disabled Persons of Uganda (NUDIPU)
3.    JLOS Development Partners Group Focal persons (JLOS DPG)
4.    Human Rights Network (HURINET)
5.    Foundation for Human Rights Initiative (FHRI)
6.    Anti-Corruption Coalition of Uganda (ACCU)

The leadership of the Working Group is determined by both the Technical Committee and Group membership.

The Chairperson of the Human Rights and Accountability Working Group is selected by the Technical Committee from its membership, while the Alternate Chairperson of the Working Group is determined annually by members from among the membership of the Working Group.

The Chairperson has the following functions:
a)    Chairs Working Group meetings;
b)    Communicate key issues and suggestions made by the Working Group to stakeholders;
c)    Manages timely progress of meetings and tasks assigned to members;
d)    Provides strategic direction for the Working Group;
e)    Presents reports to the Technical Committee on behalf of the Working Group.

The Advisor- Human Rights and Accountability is the Secretary to the Working Group. The Secretary is responsible for timely documentation of the submissions, minutes and any documentation for the Working Group and the contact person for the same.
Meetings of the Working Group

The Group endeavors to meet on a monthly basis.  The Chairperson determines the date and venue for the meetings of the Working Group. The Secretary is responsible for invitations to the meetings of the Working Group.  Unless otherwise agreed, notice of each meeting informing members of the venue, time, date and agenda is sent to the members of the Working Group a week in advance.

A quorum is dully constituted by a simple representative majority. A duly convened meeting of the Working Group, at which quorum is attained, is competent to exercise all or any of the powers and authority vested in or exercised by the Working Group.

The Human Rights and Accountability Group is one of the five Working Groups that the Technical Committee operates through, with a focus of deepening JLOS interventions especially regarding promoting the observance of human rights and accountability within the Sector. The concerted efforts of the JLOS Working Groups should substantially contribute towards the promotion of the rule of law in Uganda.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014 12:53

Access to Justice

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Gender Justice

Efforts to develop a JLOS Gender Strategy have taken place, and a JLOS Gender Strategy is in draft. There is a genuine effort to ensure gender mainstreaming in the Sector’s objectives, programme and activities as well as in staffing and human resources.

Gender champions exist in the Sector with apparent commitment and value to address gender within the work of the Sector- the challenge for JLOS is to learn how to adopt a pragmatic and systematic approach to gender mainstreaming. SIP III presents this opportunity and will concretise progress in legislation, policy and analytical work improving the pace of transformation. JLOS will improve its collection and analysis of data, and capacity development in gender analysis to inform the establishment of priorities and the implementation of activities.

Justice for Children

Since JLOS SIP 1 in 2000, JLOS has engaged in discussions at various levels to ensure access to justice for all particularly the poor and vulnerable groups, children inclusive. However service delivery to children remained fragmented at institutional level. A number of promising initiatives have been limited in scope - mainly serving children in conflict with the law and over shadowing equally important claims of children in the justice system for instance, in the areas of management of estates, custody, guardianship, protection of victims of crime and related services. Many of the justice system practitioners have had to adopt a make “do approach” dictated by resource limitations, rather than need, priority or statutory and internationally ratified obligations. The gaps are most evident within the Probation and Social Welfare Services where policy, staffing and structural challenges have to be addressed in a systematic manner.

 The sector through the Judiciary is working to address issues of jurisdiction to handle children matters in alignment with the phasing out of Grade II Magistrates under the Professionalization of the Bench policy. The Sector has also focused efforts and resources on up scaling and harmonizing the implementation of good practices and concepts like diversion – that are only important and meaningful to children only if applied consistently across the system.

Through the Justice for Children Program, the Sector has been able to integrate all these pockets of good practices into an interrelated, coherent and integrated service for children, shifting approach from institution to system wide planning, implementation and accountability for results for children.

Land Justice

Land is a key strategic resource to Uganda’s population and is a core primary factor of agricultural production, ecosystem stability, and climate resilience. Prevalence of land conflicts at household level is high at 34.9% and is slightly higher amongst rural households (36%) compared to urban households (33%). Only 20% of land conflicts are not reported to any dispute resolution option. With a dispute resolution rate of 59.9% for land conflicts at first instance and an average dissatisfaction rate of only 13.3 % the land justice system is rated fair.

Though the majority of cases are handled in semi-formal fora, the sector is working on strengthening oversight and setting standards while clarifying mandates of the different fora. Taken together, the situation of the land administration environment has significant implications for the Justice, Law and Order Sector to regulate and govern relations relating to the management of water resources, food security, forests, natural resource management, human health, infrastructure, and livelihoods. Land related wrangles and conflicts continuously flow into the criminal justice system. This situation has the potential to affect the country’s development and growth trajectory.

The high rate of population growth together with poor environment management practices means that more pressure will be exerted on the natural resource base, even if only to maintain the current quality of life, much less to contribute to economic growth and deliver environmental benefits. The role of the Justice, Law and Order Sector to protect, promote and enforce the environmental legal, policy and regulatory framework working together with other sectors is important.

Legal aid services

While our legal system can be a powerful tool for remedying wrongs, it is also extremely complex and can be difficult to navigate without the help of a trained attorney. For those unable to afford an attorney, access to the court system and the justice it can provide are limited. For those who choose to represent themselves, court costs and filing fees can be a barrier to obtaining justice. It can also be difficult to find information on simple procedural issues, like when and where to file a lawsuit and what rights you have in court. Without equal access to the justice system, many poor Ugandans struggle with legal problems that negatively affect their livelihood, their children and families. Our justice system is only as strong as the weakest person it protects. Ensuring that poor people have equal access to the legal system is important not only for protecting their quality of life; it’s also essential for maintaining the quality of justice available to everyone in our society. 


Under the SDP IV, the Sector will seek to strengthen and extend the State Briefs scheme to support Chief Magistrates and ensure that fewer cases are dismissed for lack of representation. The Sector will specifically focus on building the capacity of Legal Aid Service Providers to serve the population and will also align the Pro Bono scheme and the State Brief Scheme, while at the same time ensuring availability of choice.