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In line with the Juba Agreement on accountability and reconciliation, the Justice, Law and Order Sector (JLOS) has undertaken a country wide study on the use of traditional justice and truth telling mechanisms in the promotion of accountability and reconciliation. The consultations took place in 8 Sub Regions of the country - Buganda, Teso, Bugisu/Bugwere/Busoga, Karamoja/Kapchorwa, Acholi, Ankole/Toro/Bunyoro, Lango and West Nile.The study examined the practicalities, applicability and admissibility of the use of traditional methods of dispute resolution and truth telling in the facilitation of reconciliation, accountability, peace and justice.

The purpose of the study was to find lasting solutions for dealing with war atrocities committed in different parts of the country.It has been noted that the patterns of conflict in the affected communities today are proving resistant to formal tools of conflict management, hence the need to explore other justice mechanisms.

The findings are intended to make a proposal for a policy frame work for the implementation of accountability and reconciliation, establish the various aspects of regulatory framework, and establish the substantive laws that will be used during the process.

The consultations are a follow up of the principle agreement and the annexure on accountability and reconciliation of the Juba Peace Agreement of 2008.The Study is due completion in June 2010, with a draft report that is intended to inform policy direction on transitional justice.

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Published in Archived News

On July 25-27, 2012, the Justice Law and Order Sector and the Uganda Human Rights Commission held a successful workshop on Reparations Policy and Programming.

The purpose of the workshop was to support members of the JLOS Transitional Justice Working Group in its task to develop the reparations component of the National Transitional Justice Policy which is expected to address both formal and alternative justice mechanisms for conflict related crimes. In particular, the workshop was meant to build on the latest findings and recommendations of the JLOS National Report on Traditional Justice, Truth-telling and Reconciliation, which highlights the need for a reparations policy and program for Uganda.

Further, the workshop is a follow-up activity stemming from the February 2012 Reparations conference hosted by Uganda Human Rights Commission, the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and UNWomen where their respective reports on reparations were launched. For more details on the workshop, see concept note at: Link to concept note.

A cross-section of stakeholders were represented at the workshop, namely policymakers and technical persons, experts in transitional justice and practitioners working in war-affected communities. Participants included representatives of JLOS’ Transitional Justice Working Group, Members of Parliament, the Office of the Prime Minister, representatives of civil society, and victims’ associations. For more details on the program, see: Link to program.

Specific objectives of the workshop included:

• Sensitize the members of the Transitional Justice Working Group on international law standards and best practices in the area of reparations policymaking and programming to address mass violations and conflict-related crimes.
• Contribute directly to developing the reparations component of the JLOS National Transitional Justice policy that is in line with international standards, responsive to victims’ harm in Northern Uganda and gender sensitive.
Hon. Justice Owiny-Dolo of the International Crimes Division of the High Court of Uganda opened the workshop, indicating that the workshop was one of a series of consultative meetings in the larger process of developing a comprehensive, victim-centered policy on Transitional Justice. Commissioner Maguru of the Uganda Human Rights Commission delivered the keynote address, which related the nature, rights and obligations surrounding reparations in a transitional justice setting, and in Uganda in particular.

Hon. Jovah Kamateeka, Chair of the Human Rights Committee, Member of Parliament of Uganda chaired the session on Uganda’s Experience, relating findings from the field by the JLOS Study on Traditional Justice, Truth-telling and Reconciliation and Uganda Human Rights Commission-UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights report on “The Dust Has Not Yet Settled” relating victims’ views on reparations. Hon. Kamateeka congratulated JLOS for this initiative and confirmed her commitment and interest to support the development of a reparations policy and program for Uganda.

Hon. Betty Bigombe, State Minister for Water Resources, delivered a speech at the Welcome Dinner on July 25, 2012. The Hon. Minister related the important link between reparations and accountability and reconciliation for war crimes perpetrated during the conflict in the North. She informed participants that much care was required when elaborating a policy or program of such nature so as to ensure that it is relevant, adequate and responsive to the needs, conditions and rights of victims. Hon. Bigombe concluded by pledging her support for the adoption of a Transitional Justice policy for Uganda.

Hon. Justice Gidudu, Chair of the Transitional Justice Working Group of JLOS closed the workshop, reiterating the importance of such consultative meetings with key stakeholders to inform the process.

The workshop generated a number of findings, many of which build on the findings and recommendations of the JLOS study on Traditional Justice, Truth-telling and Reconciliation. The key facilitator, Dr. Jeremy Sarkin, a leading expert in transitional justice, helped to guide discussions which resulted in targeted findings relating to the nature of reparations that could be delivered in the context of Uganda and the implementation factor. The working group discussions led to a number of conclusions, including:

• A reparations policy and program is critical to achieving accountability and reconciliation in Uganda for war crimes perpetrated during the conflict;
• Reparations is intimately linked to truth-seeking, and victims highly value the right to truth and reparations as a form of accountability for harm suffered;
• A truth-seeking process leading to a reparations program would be the best sequencing of mechanisms in the context of Uganda;
• Importance of adopting urgent and interim measures to provide victim assistance to the most vulnerable victims while a reparations policy or program is being developed;
• A number of violations and categories of victims were identified as requiring reparations for mass crimes;
• Both individual and collective forms of reparations may be necessary to cater for the various categories of victims and harms suffered;
• Participants identified a number of forms of reparations that would be necessary, including building memorials for war affected communities, compensation for individual victims, providing specialized social services for victims with special medical/psychosocial support needs, engaging in a truth-seeking process by setting up a national truth-seeking body, and others.
• Special categories of victims were identified and found to require special attention, they include: women victims of SGBV, abducted children and child orphans, widows, women and children living with HIV/AIDS, persons living with disabilities.
• All key stakeholders, especially the GoU, civil society and victims’ associations have a role to play in the design, roll out and implementation of a reparations program. In particular, victims can play an active role in defining what type of reparations are necessary for each community and can be active in aspects of implementation of a program.
• A Trust Fund for Victims could be set up as an implementing body, as called for in the Juba Agreements, otherwise, an existing national mechanism (UHRC) could be given a new mandate to take forward the question of reparations for victims of war crimes.
• On the short-term, urgent action is recommended, in particular emergency assistance measures for the most vulnerable victims, namely the provision of medical services and psychosocial support for injured and traumatized victims.

The workshop report will contain a comprehensive list of the findings, which will be considered as an additional contribution to the TJWG policy development process and in particular are intended to inform the reparations component of the policy and an eventual program adopted by the Government of Uganda.

JLOS and UHRC wish to recognize and thank the sponsors of the workshop, the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and UN Women, for their commitment to supporting the process of developing a comprehensive policy on Transitional Justice for Uganda.


By Edgar Kuhimbisa | Published: July 28 2012

Published in Archived News

On Friday, November 11, 2011, Hon. F. Ruhindi, Minister of State for Justice and Constitutional Affairs and Deputy Attorney General delivered the keynote address at a conference held to discuss the role of amnesties on achieving justice and accountability for serious human rights violations. Hon. Ruhindi’s remarks highlighted the country’s dual goal of achieving peace and justice after the war in Northern Uganda. The Hon. Minister referred to Uganda’s national and international obligations to pursue justice and accountability for war related crimes within Uganda’s transitional justice process, suggesting a review of the current mechanisms would be relevant, and expressed support for the dialogue.

The conference focused on the Amnesty Act, adopted in 2000, by providing a history and background to the adoption of the Act; overview of the Amnesty Act and discussion of key provisions; the impact of the Amnesty Act on peace and justice after the war; the effect of the Amnesty Act on gender based crimes committed during the conflict; and international perspectives on amnesties and international law principles and standards. The conference concluded with a discussion on the future of the Amnesty Act; specifically, the participants were asked to express views on whether the instrument required amendments, repeal or should be preserved as is.

The ‘way forward’ discussion led to a number of proposals for amendment to the Act to allow for greater accountability of individuals responsible for atrocities. Generally, participants agreed that the Amnesty Act was insufficient to achieve sustainable peace and meaningful justice for victims after the war. There was overwhelming support for the adoption of additional mechanisms alongside the Amnesty Act, such as a national truth commission and delivery of reparations for victims, in the form of social services and infrastructure.

To close the conference, Ms. Josephine Onya of the Ministry of Internal Affairs represented the Hon. Minister H.Onek, indicating that a revision of the Act would be timely in light of the current context in the region and the country’s move towards justice and accountability for war related crimes.

The conference was organized by the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Uganda (OHCHR), UN Women, and the Refugee Law Project. In attendance were members of the Government of Ugannda, the Justice, Law and Order Sector, international community, academics, civil society organizations and members of war-affected communities, including victims of the conflict in Northern Uganda.


By Edgar Kuhimbisa | Published: November 21, 2011

Published in Archived News

On 15-16 March 2012, the Justice Law and Order Sector in collaboration with the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and UN Women held a “Community Dialogue on the Future of the Amnesty Act 2000” in Kitgum. The purpose of this dialogue was to: Engage in a debate on the Amnesty Act in war-affected communities with a view to understanding community views on the current operation and future of the Act; Discuss the relevance of the Amnesty Act in light of the northern Uganda post-conflict situation and the implications on accountability, justice and reconciliation in Uganda; Reflect on how amnesty interacts with other accountability and justice mechanisms for crimes committed during the conflict in northern Uganda, particularly crimes involving sexual and gender based violence (SGBV).

Specific objectives included, to:

1. Enhance dialogue between civil society, victims groups, local and religious leaders and Government representatives on issues surrounding the Amnesty Act in Uganda;
2. Increase outreach on amnesty, accountability and transitional justice issues to victims, affected groups and the broader community;
3. Provide concrete proposals to the JLOS Transitional Justice Working Group and other decision makers including Members of Parliament to inform their deliberations on the future of the Act.

A wide cross-section of stakeholders were represented, including members of the JLOS Transitional Justice Working Group, members of civil society, community-based groups, local government, traditional and religious leaders, academia, and victims’ groups. Community views and views from women’s organizations and victims groups featured prominently in the meeting.

Plenary discussions centred on the possible options for the way forward: the expiration of the Amnesty Act accompanied by the adoption of other transitional justice mechanisms, such as truth-telling and reparations to promote restorative justice; or the extension of the Act with amendments to strengthen the ‘reintegration’ mandate of the Commission and to harmonize the Amnesty Act with existing mechanisms, national laws (ICC Act) and international obligations and standards. While there was expressed support for both options, there was broad consensus amongst all stakeholders that amnesty alone was insufficient to address the rights, needs and conditions of victims and war-affected communities. While amnesty plays a role in peace building, it must be accompanied by additional measures to promote justice, truth-telling and reparations for victims and their communities, as well as social reintegration of former combatants.


The meeting generated rich debate on the possible options for the future of the Amnesty Act. Key considerations included an evaluation of the current role and impact of the Act and the Amnesty Commission; the national and regional context; community views and the experience of victims; amnesty within Uganda’s transitional justice process to achieve justice and reconciliation; as well as implications on Uganda’s national and international law obligations. Recommendations from the plenary discussions and focused group discussions focused on two possible options: expiration of the Act or extension with Amendment.

A key outcome of the conference will be the publication of a conference report with concrete proposals on the way forward. This report will be presented to the JLOS Transitional Justice Working Group for its consideration during its review of the Amnesty Act. The report will also be used to inform key stakeholders and decision-makers on a recommended way forward on Amnesty in the context of Uganda’s transitional justice process.

Published in Archived News
Wednesday, 16 January 2013 10:42

Women & Children

The Juba Agreement annexure places special attention on the experiences of women and children during the conflict. It recognizes that women and children suffered particular violations and should be consulted in the process of developing policies and justice mechanisms in their favour.

Published in Transitional Justice
Wednesday, 16 January 2013 10:36


Reparations are equally valued by victims to achieve meaningful justice for conflict related violations. Reparations reflect the duty to repair harm when human rights violations have occurred. It includes providing a remedy for physical and psychosocial harms and addressing the human impact of conflict-crimes. Reparations include five forms: restitution, compensation, rehabilitation, satisfaction, guarantees of non-repetition.


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Published in Transitional Justice
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