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Uganda: ICC Press release; News articles and opinions; Audiovisual materials
05 Aug 2010
Please find below information about recent developments related to the International Criminal Court's investigation in Uganda.
This message includes ICC's latest press release (I), news articles and opinions (II) as well as audiovisual materials (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
The document below has been produced by the ICC. The Coalition for the ICC distributes it as part of its mandate to keep member organizations and individuals informed about developments related to the ICC. The document does not reflect the views of the CICC as a whole or its individual members.
i. "Ugandans commemorate the eighth anniversary of the entry into force of the Rome Statute", ICC Press Release, ICC-PIDS-20100702-PR553, 1 July 2010, http://www.icc-cpi.int/menus/icc/press and media/press releases/news and highlights/pr553<https://exchange.wfm-igp.net/owa/redir.aspx?C=d758ce8fbe7d4ecfb637888c1db752f1&URL=http:;/;/;www.icc-cpi.int/;menus/;icc/;press%;20and%;20media/;press%;20releases/;news%;20and%;20highlights/;pr553>
"On 1 July, 2010, hundreds of Ugandans joined to celebrate the eighth anniversary of the entry into force of the Rome Statute, the founding treaty of the International Criminal Court. Commissioners, representatives of civil society organisations, unions of persons with disabilities, women's groups, local leaders, teachers and school children from eight secondary schools in the districts of Soroti, Amuria and Kaberamaido participated in the events.
The commemorative events held in Soroti included a march through the main streets of the municipality, a town-hall style meeting with various key note speakers, an ICC moot court demonstration or role model play and interactive radio talk shows.
Over 500 people participated in the march-past. The event that was organised by the Field Outreach Unit in partnership with local NGOs, the Ugandan Coalition for the ICC and HURINET, was also attended by the resident District Commissioner of Soroti. Clad in uniform T-shirts and caps with the catchphrase, 'Say no to impunity - accountability and justice for all', the participants cheerfully marched to the rhythm of the brass-band that led the procession, with assorted banners raised high.
After the march the participants gathered at the Boma grounds to listen to various speakers.
The resident District Commission, Hon. Ben Etonu presided over the session. In his address, he noted that "...Soroti [is] one of the districts most affected by the crimes under the Rome Statute. Therefore it is an honour to host this event.' He further commented on the appreciation of the Teso sub-region of the efforts that have been made by the ICC in addressing the most serious crimes that are of great concern to the world. He also highlighted that Uganda's ratification of the Rome Statute, the referral of the situation to the ICC and the passing of the ICC related bill into national law, are genuine demonstrations of the country's commitment to accountability and justice initiatives.
Speaking of behalf of the Uganda Victims' Foundation (UVF), vice-chairperson Chris Ongom acknowledged some significant provisions in the Rome Statute, especially the inclusion of gender and sexual-related crimes, and crimes against children. He further commended the provision of rights for victims to participate in Court proceedings, which give them a unique opportunity to express their views and concerns before the judges; and the right for them to request reparation at the end of trials if an accused person is found guilty. He called upon the State Parties to the Rome Statute to strengthen co-operation with the Court as determined during the Review Conference.
In her address on the theme of the day, the co-ordinator of the Uganda Coalition for the International Criminal Court (UCICC), Joyce Apio stated that all actors should be fully involved in saying 'no to impunity in order to create stronger pillars for accountability and justice for all."
Following the statements, students enacted a role-play that presented the different parties and participants in the Court, which stimulated debate. Questions were asked about the distinct roles and functions of the prosecution's team, the defence counsel and the victims' legal representatives.
The majority of the participants expressed concerns about the outstanding arrest warrants in all situations under investigation before the Court. Some urged States Parties to galvanise efforts to arrest and surrender suspects to the ICC and to enable the Court to fulfil its mandate.
The celebrations of the day were concluded with two interactive radio talk shows that were held in parallel - one in Soroti hosted by the Voice of Teso community radio station and another in Kampala on K-FM. Over two million Ugandans followed the respective discussions that addressed the history of the formation of the Court and its achievements so far.
The ICC has been established to help end impunity for the most serious crimes of concern to the international community, namely genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes committed after entry into force of the Rome Statute (1 July 2002), as well as the crime of aggression, once the conditions under which the Court can exercise its jurisdiction have been fulfilled. The Court may exercise jurisdiction over international crimes committed on the territory of a State Party, or a State having accepted the jurisdiction of the Court, or by one of their nationals. These conditions however, do not apply if a situation is referred to the Prosecutor by the United Nations Security Council. Today 111 are States Parties to the Statute. Uganda signed the Statute on 17 March, 1999 and ratified on 14 June, 2002.
The situation in northern Uganda was referred to the Court by the government in December, 2003. The Prosecutor opened an investigation in July 2004. In the case derived from the investigation The Prosecutor v. Joseph Kony, Vincent Otti, Okot Odhiambo and Dominic Ongwen, five warrants of arrest have been issued against top members of the Lords Resistance Army (LRA) for crimes against humanity and war crimes committed in Uganda since July 2002. Following the confirmed death of Raska Lukwiya, the proceedings against him have been terminated. The four remaining suspects are still at large. ..."
II. ICC STATEMENTS
i. "The ICC marks the Day of International Criminal Justice with affected communities in northern Uganda", ICC Press Office, 22 July 2010 http://www.icc-cpi.int/menus/icc/press and media/press releases/the icc marks the day of international criminal justice with affected communities in northern uganda
"Consistent with the Court's outreach strategy to expand its reach to the most affected communities, the International Criminal Court's (ICC) Field Outreach Unit marked the Day of International Criminal Justice with the war affected communities of Lukodi village in the Gulu district, of the Acholi sub-region of northern Uganda.
Over 180 members of the community consisting largely of women, youths and children's groups turned up to commemorate the special day on 17 July. ..."
III. LATEST NEWS AND OPINIONS
i. "Uganda Set for First War Crimes Trial", by Bill Oketch (IWPR), 14 July 2010, http://www.iwpr.net/report-news/uganda-set-first-war-crimes-trial<https://exchange.wfm-igp.net/owa/redir.aspx?C=d758ce8fbe7d4ecfb637888c1db752f1&URL=http:;/;/;www.iwpr.net/;report-news/;uganda-set-first-war-crimes-trial>
"Uganda's first ever war crimes trial could start before the end of the year, IWPR understands, despite uncertainty over new legislation intended to make such prosecutions possible.
The country's director of public prosecutions, Richard Butera told IWPR that his department is preparing to refer the case of Thomas Kwoyelo - a former Lord's Resistence Army, LRA, commander, presently in custody in Gulu - to the newly-established war crimes division of the High Court.
If Kwoyelo's trial goes ahead, it will represent the first time that an ICC situation country has been in a position to try its own war criminals.....
Since the ICC does not have the resources to try all suspected war criminals, its mandate is to prosecute only those deemed most responsible for atrocities, with the remainder being tried by national courts, provided that the local judiciary is capable of doing this
...The war crimes division of the High Court got a green-light to start operating just ahead of the recent ICC review conference n Kampala, when Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni announced that he had put his signature to the controversial ICC bill - which enables the Ugandan judiciary to try war crimes - adopted by parliament on March 10.
Mirjam Blaak, Uganda's ambassador to the ICC, said that she was very happy that Museveni had at last signed the bill, which has been in the pipeline for the past six years.
'It was important to have the bill signed before the review conference took place,' she said. 'They wouldn't have cancelled the review conference if it hadn't been, but it was an understanding that we would.'
However, there has been much confusion over the ICC bill, with many people, even those close to the government, being uncertain about whether the president had actually signed it.
Lindah Nabusay, Museveni's deputy spokeswoman, said that she was not aware that the president had put his pen to the legislation.
Nearly two months after being reportedly signed by Museveni, few people have been able to get hold of a copy of the ICC bill.
David Donat Cattin, director of the international law and human rights programme at Parliamentarians for Global Action, has been unable to obtain a copy of the legislation, despite his best efforts.
'It is a bit surprising that it is not yet available, especially because it was adopted unanimously in parliament,' he said.
Blaak explained the delay by claiming that the government needed time to incorporate last-minute changes that were made, and that it would be published 'very soon'.
But the apparent secrecy surrounding the ICC bill gives some indication of how difficult it has been to push the new legislation through parliament.
The bill was first tabled as far back as 2004, but Blaak says that it was pushed to one side while peace talks between the LRA and the government were taking place.
When it was finally presented to parliament in 2006, two elements of the new law proved particularly divisive: an apparent reference to the death penalty, prohibited by the ICC, and an explicit clause protecting a serving president from prosecution.
'The Ugandan constitution also gives wide immunity to a serving president, but it would have been disgraceful to have put this in black and white within the ICC bill,' said Cattin. 'It would have sent out quite the wrong message to the international community and we couldn't have lived with that.'
Blaak says that, in the latest version signed by the president, both elements have been dropped.
Akiki Keeza, head of the new war crimes division of the High Court, says that now that the ICC bill has been signed, the Hague-based court should get behind Uganda's efforts to try war criminals.
...For those in northern Uganda, who have suffered greatly during the years of the LRA insurgency, the question of whether the war crimes division of the High Court is the best avenue for justice remains open.
.... Another point of contention is the question of whether the government will be able to provide reparations for the victims of those tried by the Ugandan justice system. ..."
ii. "LRA Rampage Sparks Protection Calls", by Nancy Sai (IWPR), 14 July 2010, http://www.iwpr.net/report-news/lra-rampage-sparks-protection-calls<https://exchange.wfm-igp.net/owa/redir.aspx?C=d758ce8fbe7d4ecfb637888c1db752f1&URL=http:;/;/;www.iwpr.net/;report-news/;lra-rampage-sparks-protection-calls>
"Human rights groups are warning that greater efforts to protect civilians are urgently needed as the Ugandan rebel group the Lord's Resistance Army, LRA, continues to carry out attacks in neighbouring countries....
... In southern Sudan, according to UNHCR, an estimated 2,500 people have been killed and 87,800 displaced, with the corresponding figures in CAR 36 and 10,000.
... In 2005, the International Criminal Court issued warrants for the arrest of LRA founder Joseph Kony and five other commanders. Kony, who remains at large, was charged with 12 crimes against humanity and 21 war crimes.
Ledio Cakaj, Uganda/LRA field researcher for the advocacy group the Enough Project, said the absence of humanitarian organisations in remote parts of CAR targeted by the LRA was leading to a crisis situation.
... A more coordinated approach had been signaled by United States president Barack Obama with the signing the LRA Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act on May 24, aimed at both stopping the immediate violence through interagency cooperation and investing in a sustainable peace.
Anneke Van Woudenburg, senior Africa researcher of Human Rights Watch, said that Obama's Act was "an important step forward to help address the problem of the LRA.
'The US administration, together with the government in the [DRC] region, will now need to work to come up with a new comprehensive strategy to address the problem of the LRA once and for all. [The bill is] momentous since [it] is one of the few introduced on Africa that has won broad bipartisan support and has succeeded into law.'
But she said there was now an urgent need to act, 'The people of northern Congo continue to suffer a human rights and humanitarian crisis as a result of attacks by the LRA. The longer the problem is not addressed the longer it will remain a humanitarian crisis, with civilians at risk of further brutal attacks.'
A recent report by Philip Alston, UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, set out the difficulties faced in protecting civilians in the region...."
iii. "Mia Farrow meets children of war in Uganda," AP, 16 July 2010,
"Actress Mia Farrow met with young victims of war and sexual abuse during a three-day trip through Uganda.
Farrow, a U.N. Goodwill Ambassador, spoke with 15-year-old Lilian Andia, who was abducted by the Lord's Resistance Army and gave birth to two children in captivity. Andia was later rescued by Congo's army...."
iv. "End Massacre of Uganda's Karamojong", by Samuel Olara (Black Star News), 30 June 2010, http://blackstarnews.com/news/135/ARTICLE/6658/2010-06-30.html<https://exchange.wfm-igp.net/owa/redir.aspx?C=d758ce8fbe7d4ecfb637888c1db752f1&URL=http:;/;/;blackstarnews.com/;news/;135/;ARTICLE/;6658/;2010-06-30.html>
"... If the International Criminal Court is serious, there is an ongoing case that it can look into --in addition to the ones that remain uninvestigated-- in Uganda today.
There is no easy way out of the spiraling morass of terror and brutality that confronts the innocent ethnic Karamojong civilians in Uganda...."
v. "Ugandan lawyer petitions against ICC activities", by Lominda Afedraru (Daily Monitor), 7 July 2010, http://www.monitor.co.ug/News/National/-/688334/953392/-/x20olf/-/<https://exchange.wfm-igp.net/owa/redir.aspx?C=d758ce8fbe7d4ecfb637888c1db752f1&URL=http:;/;/;www.monitor.co.ug/;News/;National/;-/;688334/;953392/;-/;x20olf/;-/;>
"A Ugandan lawyer has gone to court, seeking to block various laws governing operational activities of the International Criminal Court in Uganda.
Mr Jowad Kezaale says ICC laws contravene various provisions of the Ugandan Constitution.In his petition against the government filed at the Constitutional Court, Mr Kezaala is challenging various sections of the International Criminal Court Act (ICCA) which Parliament domesticated here for purposes of effecting activities of the court in the country...."
vi. "Uganda tightens summit security after suicide blasts," DPA, 21 July 2010, http://www.monstersandcritics.com/news/africa/news/article_1572237.php/Uganda-tightens-summit-security-after-suicide-blasts<https://exchange.wfm-igp.net/owa/redir.aspx?C=d758ce8fbe7d4ecfb637888c1db752f1&URL=http:;/;/;www.monstersandcritics.com/;news/;africa/;news/;article_1572237.php/;Uganda-tightens-summit-security-after-suicide-blasts>
"... Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir, who faces an arrest warrant issued by the International Criminal Court for war crimes and genocide in the Darfur province, is not likely to attend, although officials say an invitation was extended to him.
'We have invited al-Bashir,' Foreign Ministry spokesman, James Mugume, told dpa. 'As regards the ICC arrest warrants, it is up to him to decide to come or not.' ..."
vii. "AU summit: Bashir visit hangs in balance," by Edris Kiggundu (The Observer), 5 July 2010, http://www.observer.ug/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=9129:au-summit-bashir-visit-hangs-in-balance-&catid=34:news&Itemid=59<https://exchange.wfm-igp.net/owa/redir.aspx?C=d758ce8fbe7d4ecfb637888c1db752f1&URL=http:;/;/;www.observer.ug/;index.php?;option=;com_content&;view=;article&;id=;9129:;au-summit-bashir-visit-hangs-in-balance-&;catid=;34:;news&;Itemid=;59>
"The Sudanese leader, Omar el-Bashir's presence at the 15th ordinary session of the African Union Summit later this month in Kampala remains in doubt, despite being invited. Some Ugandan government officials are sending mixed signals over his suitability to attend the three-day summit, something analysts believe could scare him away. Bashir is the only sitting head of state indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) over alleged genocide in Darfur....
... Under the Rome Statute, it is incumbent upon an ICC member country to arrest anyone indicted by the court if they set foot in the country, but Bashir's situation is proving to be delicate for Uganda.
... Over the years, Uganda has not had the best of relations with Sudan.
... At the same time, if Bashir were to come here and not get arrested, Uganda's reputation as a country that abides by international law would be questioned, especially after the country hosted a major ICC summit only last month.
The ICC indictments have greatly limited Bashir's foreign travel, and the Sudanese leader has only traveled to countries that are not members of the ICC so far. ..."
viii. "Congo army kills 80 rebels," by Muhyadin Ahmed Roble (AfricaNews), 30 June 2010, http://www.africanews.com/site/Congo_army_kills_80_rebels/list_messages/33104<https://exchange.wfm-igp.net/owa/redir.aspx?C=d758ce8fbe7d4ecfb637888c1db752f1&URL=http:;/;/;www.africanews.com/;site/;Congo_army_kills_80_rebels/;list_messages/;33104>
"The Congo army has killed 80 rebels from neighbooring Uganda and Rwanda who entered volatile eastern Congo. General Amuli Bahigwa of Congo army said on Tuesday that the army killed the rebels in an operation that started on the first day of June.
He added that four of government soldiers were dead in the mission while Ugandan rebels killed eight civilians.
... Five LRA commanders including its leader Joseph Kony are wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for murder, torture, rape, abductions and forced conscription of children into fighting."
ix. "Ugandans Edgy Over US Move Against LRA", Moses Odokonyero (IWPR), 22 July 2010, http://www.iwpr.net/report-news/ugandans-edgy-over-us-move-against-lra
"As Washington prepares to unveil a strategy aimed at neutralising the Lord's Resistance Army, LRA, many in northern Uganda are mindful of how past attempts to deal a knock-out blow to the rebel movement have succeeded only in increasing instability in the region.
While welcoming greater support in apprehending Joseph Kony,the leader of the LRA, and his henchmen, they are concerned about the consequences of a military campaign against the rebels who've terrorised civilians across eastern and central Africa over the past three decades.
Although Washington's plans have yet to be announced, one of the principal fears in northern Uganda is that, rather than defeat the LRA, the United States might simply succeed in pushing them further afield, to commit atrocities elsewhere, or even prompting their return to Uganda.
Previous international initiatives have not been immediately successful. Five years after the International Criminal Court, ICC, issued arrest warrants for senior LRA commanders, none have been caught and two have died while on the run...
...ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo says that the initiative taken by Washington shows how those countries, which for the time being remain outside the ICC, can nonetheless contribute towards the successful functioning of the court.
'Joseph Kony is still committing crimes and he must be arrested,' he told IWPR. We appreciate the US and other countries in supporting the territorial states to bring about his capture. This is of the utmost importance. Humanity has to help the victims by stopping these crimes.'...
... 'We're starting to see great cooperation from state and non-state parties alike, and this is a very positive development,' said Moreno-Ocampo. ..."
x. "LRA - Country's Worst Export of the Century", Charles Mwanguhya Mpagi (Daily Monitor_, 1 August 2010, http://allafrica.com/stories/201008020504.html
"Joseph Kony could have been sent packing from the northern Uganda but this did not stop his Lord's Resistance Army from showing its ugly head in South Sudan, DR Congo and Central African republic. As Charles Mwanguhya Mpagi writes, a walk through Kony's footpath reveals that his fighters have left many scars that will take centuries to heal....
...The LRA has become Uganda's worst export of the 21st century. With all its top command on the International Criminal Court wanted list, the LRA now operates as the first African cross border rebel group in at least three countries and remains a constant threat in their home country Uganda. ..."
IV. AUDIOVISUAL MATERIALS
i. "Women, War & Peace in Congo: Field Report: Protecting Uganda's Victims," Video with Women's rights activist Ruth Ojiambo Ochieng, PBS, http://www.pbs.org/wnet/wideangle/episodes/women-war-peace-in-congo/field-report-protecting-ugandas-victims/5839/<https://exchange.wfm-igp.net/owa/redir.aspx?C=d758ce8fbe7d4ecfb637888c1db752f1&URL=http:;/;/;www.pbs.org/;wnet/;wideangle/;episodes/;women-war-peace-in-congo/;field-report-protecting-ugandas-victims/;5839/;>
"On their way to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) last month, Women, War & Peace field producers stopped in Kampala, Uganda, just as the International Criminal Court was holding its first review conference. The ICC was founded to prosecute human rights abuses in countries where the national courts could not or would not investigate such crimes. Since its inception in 2002, it has opened investigations in five African countries - the DRC, Sudan, Kenya, the Central African Republic, and Uganda. The court's first investigation was in Uganda and centered on the Lord's Resistance Army, a rebel group that has been at war with Uganda's government for the better part of twenty years.
WWP field producers Wellington Bowler and Taylor Krauss met with Ruth Ojiambo Ochieng, the executive director of Isis-Women's International Cross-Cultural Exchange, an advocacy network operating primarily in Africa that trains women in community activism and reports human rights abuses. Ochieng talks about her work documenting cases of sexual atrocities and where she thinks the ICC falls short."
ii. Exclusive interview with Angelina Jolie, Video, ABC News 15 July 2010, http://abcnews.go.com/Nightline/video/angelina-jolie-exclusive-interview-brad-pitt-11148859<https://exchange.wfm-igp.net/owa/redir.aspx?C=d758ce8fbe7d4ecfb637888c1db752f1&URL=http:;/;/;abcnews.go.com/;Nightline/;video/;angelina-jolie-exclusive-interview-brad-pitt-11148859>
At 7mn40, actress Angelina Jolie mentions Joseph Kony and related issues in an interview with ABC News in advance of her movie Salt.
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.
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