Uganda and LRA Agree to Domestic War Crimes Court
During my latest blog-blackout, I missed the latest from Uganda. Apparently, the LRA-Uganda peace talks have reached agreement on a domestic process for prosecuting war crimes.
The Ugandan government and the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebels on Tuesday signed a major agreement on how to deal with crimes committed during the brutal nearly 22-year insurgency in northern Uganda. The government and the rebels are currently engaged in peace talks mediated by South Sudan Vice President Riek Machar.
According to the new protocol, those accused of severe crimes would be tried in the High Court of Uganda while those accused of lesser crimes would face the northern Uganda traditional justice system know as Mato OPut.
Uganda’s government seems to believe that it can get the ICC arrest warrants withdrawn against key LRA leaders. As its minister of state for defense says:
“First of all it is Uganda which approached the ICC to help in getting Kony and his commanders because Uganda could not reach Kony because he was outside Uganda’s jurisdiction. We are hoping that if Kony and his commanders decided to be subjected to DDR, demobilization, disarmament, and then reintegrate, that would mean that they would come out of the bush and come to Uganda, and then Uganda will now be in the position to get them. And we will have no problem in subjecting them through our judicial system. ICC was created to fight impunity, and therefore the High Court of Uganda can exactly do that,” she said.
But Uganda cannot recall its original referral. The decision to withdraw the ICC arrest warrants is for the ICC, not Uganda. But someone should tell Uganda’s government that.