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Uganda: Coverage of cancellation of Al-Bashir's venue to Uganda; Art
19 Aug 2009
Please find below information about recent developments related to the
International Criminal Court's investigation in Uganda.
This message includes news and opinions on the cancellation of ICC suspect
Al-Bashir's venue to a summit held in Uganda (I); coverage of the briefing of
Secretary-General's Special Envoy for the LRA-affected areas to the United
Nations Security Council (II); as well as other related news and opinion pieces
(III), including articles on the trial of former LRA commander Thomas Kwoyelo
and on the resignation of LRA's peace negotiator David Matsanga.
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) NEWS AND OPINIONS ON CANCELLATION OF AL BASHIR'S VENUE TO UGANDA
i. "Sudan's Bashir Absent From Uganda Summit," Sudan Tribune, 26 July 2009,
"The Global 2009 Smart Partnership Dialogue conference started in Uganda without
the presence of the Sudanese president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir despite being
....It turned out that Uganda has agreed with Sudan that Bashir would send
another official to attend in his place 'to avoid a diplomatic incident'
according to Ugandan East Africa and Regional Affairs Minister Isaac Musumba.
Musievini told reporters, according the Ugandan Observer newspaper at the summit
today that Bashir 'was not shut out, but there were some issues. Because, you
remember, some people said in the papers that we had invited General Bashir so
that he comes and we arrest him. That's not according to the culture of the
Great Lakes region in Africa here.'
'When I want to fight you, I insult you, I don't invite you, I tell you
beforehand. We don't believe in surprise attacks.'
He hinted at Kampala's communication to Khartoum about the need for Bashir to
stay away, 'If there are any other issues, I will tell you 'Please don't come
here because, I cannot guarantee your safety'.' ..."
ii. "Sudan President Cancels Uganda Visit Over Arrest Threat," Sudan Tribune, 17
July 2009, http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article31835
"The Sudanese Omer Hassan Al-Bashir will not attend the Smart Partnership
conference in Kampala on July 26th despite being invited, a Ugandan official
iii. "Divisions Emerge Over Arrest of Bashir," by Rosebell Kagumire (IWPR), 23
July 2009, http://www.iwpr.net/?p=acr&s=f&o=354642&apc_state=henh
"Uganda's situation is particularly difficult because it is both a signatory to
the ICC's Rome Statute and a member of the African Union, which has refused to
cooperate with the ICC's decision over the indictment of Bashir.
Moreover, Uganda was the first country to take a case before the war crimes
tribunal in the Hague: that of Joseph Kony, head of Ugandan rebel group the
Lord's Resistance Army, who was indicted by the ICC in 2005 but has not yet been
...The disagreement about whether to press for the arrest of Bashir is played
out in lower levels of government, too.
'Uganda must stand by its international obligations,' Steven Tashobya, chairman
of the Parliamentary Legal Affairs Committee, said. 'We must be reliable
partners. We cannot expect to tell other countries to arrest Kony if we are
unwilling to execute arrest warrants for another person indicted for war crimes.
Not everyone in the Ugandan parliament agrees, though. James Akena, a member of
parliament from northern Uganda, says that if Uganda were to take action against
Bashir 'it would throw the region into instability'.
Uganda and Sudan have suffered a somewhat acrimonious relationship over the
...The situation is made even more delicate by the fact that, in 2010, Uganda
will host the first review discussion of the Rome Statute, which set up the ICC.
'If Uganda is seen to be too supportive of the African Union's position, then it
is quite possible that this might provoke a change of venue,' said William
Schabas, director of the Irish Centre for Human Rights.
Schabas says that Uganda is under no legal obligation to press for the arrest of
Bashir, even if he was to make a visit to the country.
Article 98 of the Rome Statute stipulates that a country does not have to
proceed with a request from the ICC if doing so would be inconsistent 'with its
obligations under international law with respect to the State or diplomatic
immunity of a person or property of a third State, unless the Court can first
obtain the cooperation of that third State for the waiver of the immunity'.
Since Uganda is a member of the AU, Schabas argues that this takes precedence
over the ICC.
But Schabas does think that the AU position is a worrying one, and that it
significantly undermines the ICC's authority.
Lina Zedriga, an advocate for peace and security in Kampala, says that the AU's
stance over the indictment of Bashir is not universally accepted by its members.
...Zedriga thinks Uganda should side with the ICC over the arrest of Bashir..."
iv. "Uganda Speaks With a Forked Tongue...," The East African, 20 July 2009,
"Just how solid is Uganda's word and who speaks for the country?
This is a legitimate question after last week's events that saw Kampala
flip-flop between appeasing the International Criminal Court, which has issued
arrest warrants against Sudan's President Omar al Bashir, and sticking with the
pack after the African Union passed a resolution against any efforts to arrest
Somehow, Uganda's political leadership expected to land on the right side of
Having got the ICC to issue warrants against the leaders of its own Lord's
Resistance Army, Uganda was expected to be a natural ally in any future search
for fugitives from international justice....
Uganda risks a crisis of credibility. Taking stands and then backtracking from
them to suit different occasions, is hardly the way to earn respect."
v. "Bashir blocked but is Museveni off the hook?," by Rosebell Kagumire (The
Independent), 29 July 2009,
"Uganda has officially become the second African country after South Africa to
block a visit by Sudanese President Gen. Omar al-Bashir. ... Uganda placed
itself between a rock and a hard place when it invited him to the 19th edition
of the International Global Smart Partnership dialogue in Kampala between July
26 and 28. Since then, analysts have pointed out that, the narrowing of space
for Bashir has implications for President Yoweri Museveni and other African
vi. "Museveni's Bashir arrest dilemma and the ICC," By Asuman Bisiika (The East
Africa), 27 July 2009,
"Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir decision not to come to Kampala to attend the
Smart Partnership Conference on July 26 gave Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni
a way out of a situation that can only be described as the Devil's Alternative.
vii. "Why Bashir's ICC Arrest is trouble for Museveni," by Asuman Bisiika (The
Independent), 5 August 2009,
viii. "Amidst Pressure, Bashir to Avoid Ugandan Trip," by Alan Boswel (VOA), 17
July 2009, http://www.voanews.com/english/2009-07-17-voa27.cfm
ix. "Uganda Came Close to War With Sudan," by Angelo Izama (Sunday Monitor), 2
(II) CHISSANO'S LAST BRIEFING TO UNSC
i. "Two Track Strategy Needed to End Conflict in Northern Uganda - UN Envoy," UN
News Service, 15 July 2009,
"The outgoing United Nations envoy for the conflict in northern Uganda today
stressed the need for a two-pronged strategy of pursuing negotiation as well as
military action against the notorious rebel group known as the Lord's Resistance
In his last briefing to the Security Council as the Secretary-General's Special
Envoy for the LRA-affected areas, Joaquim Chissano spoke about the state of the
Juba peace agreements - originally signed in Sudan in February 2008 and set to
take effect after the signing of a final overall peace accord - involving the
LRA and the Ugandan Government.
... Mr. Kony has given the impression that he has little interest in the peace
process, the envoy said, but emphasized that opportunities for peaceful
re-engagement with the LRA and military action must be pursued simultaneously.
The LRA leader's direct engagement would be the yardstick of the credibility of
any discussions, Mr. Chissano, who was appointed to his position in December
The Juba peace agreements should be implemented, he said, adding that people in
northern Uganda have already experienced the fruits of peace.
...The Council also called on the LRA to 'come and seize the opportunity still
there and sign the final peace agreement,' said Mr. Rugunda."
ii. "Kony's Arrest Warrant Contradicts Possible Peace Deal: Former UN Envoy,"
Xinhua, 18 July 2009, http://english.cri.cn/6966/2009/07/18/1461s502289.htm
"The international arrest warrant for Uganda's rebel leader Joseph Kony and a
peace agreement still missing his signature are fundamentally at odds, a former
United Nations envoy for areas affected by the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) said
here on Friday.
'They are in contradiction, of course,' said Joaquim Chissano whose office
closed on Wednesday. 'But one doesn't have to take the other into account. The
peace agreement does not have to take into account the demands of the ICC
(International Criminal Court) into consideration.'
...Although the Juba agreement contradicts the ICC arrest warrant, former
Mozambique President Chissano said the only way for the warrant to be dropped is
if the Ugandan government proves that is 'willing and capable' of undertaking an
internationally recognized judicial system for Kony to be tried at instead of at
Until then, the ICC warrant will stand. It just won't figure into the peace
agreement should Kony sign it, said Chissano.
When asked what would happen if Kony signed the peace agreement but traveled to
a country that had pledged to arrest him, Chissano said that was putting 'the
cart ahead of the horse.' Chissano, who met with Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
on Friday, noted that he decided to step down from his UN position of three
years after it became clear that Kony was not going to sign the peace agreement.
'Kony has failed to fulfill his promise,' said Chissano. 'It's been one year and
four months.' Should Kony change his mind, Chissano said the rebel leader knows
where to find him. 'He has my cell phone number,' he said...."
iii. "Leaders Question Chissano's Anti-LRA Proposal," IRIN News, 24 July 2009,
"While the Ugandan government supports the recommendation by Joachim Chissano,
the outgoing UN envoy for areas affected by the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), to
use military as well as peaceful means to deal with the rebels, several leaders
in northern Uganda have opposed the proposal, saying the military option would
destabilise the region further. ..."
iv. "LRA Torture of Civilians Continue," IRIN News, 17 July 2009,
v. "ICC Can't Provide Assurance to LRA's Kony, Despite Ugandan Promise and
Chissano's," by Matthew Russell Lee (Inner City Press), July 16 2009,
(III) OTHER NEWS AND OPINIONS
i. "Test Case for Ugandan Justice - Kampala Puts Former LRA Commander on Trial
- But Not For War Crimes," by Bill Oketch (IWPR), 29 July 2009,
"The country's ability to try those accused of war crimes by itself will be put
to the test in August, when Thomas Kwoyelo becomes the first former commander of
the Lord's Resistance Army, LRA, to appear before magistrates in the country.
However, in order to speed up the legal process, he is not being officially
charged with war crimes, but with the lesser offence of kidnap with intent to
Kwoyelo will initially appear before the regional court in Gulu, but his case
will be submitted to Kampala once initial investigations are over, according to
Uganda has said that it will set up a special branch of the high court in
Kampala to try captured war criminals, but it is not operational yet.
Observers say that when the charges against Kwoyelo were read out to a packed
courtroom on June 4, people had been jubilant at the thought that a former LRA
commander would be charged with war crimes.
But such jubilation quickly turned to disappointment when they heard the lesser
Kwoyelo, 37, was captured in the Democratic Republic of Congo in March,
following a gun battle between the Ugandan army and LRA soldiers.
He faces 12 counts of kidnap with intent to murder relating to the disappearance
of villagers from Atiak and Pabbo, sub-counties of Amuru and Gulu districts, who
were allegedly seized by LRA soldiers. They were not seen again.
Kwoyelo is also alleged to have commanded a band of insurgents that raided
villages and killed over 100 innocent civilians in Otwal, Oyam district, about
37 kilometres from Lira town.
Chief magistrate Joseph Omodo Onyanga, who heard the charges against Kwoyelo,
said that the defendant would face trial at the high court in Kampala, but only
once he had answered his current charges before the regional court.
Onyanga declined, however, to say what Kwoyelo would be tried for in Kampala.
...A number of senior academics have criticised the decision to try Kwoyelo in
Uganda, saying that the country does not have jurisdiction over war crimes and
that the International Criminal Court, ICC, would be better placed to deal with
In 2005, the ICC issued an arrest warrant for Joseph Kony, head of the LRA, as
well as Vincent Otti, Okot Odhiambo and Dominic Ongwen.
However, no international arrest warrant has been issued for Kwoyelo...."
ii. "Dutch Envoy Wants LRA Rebels Punished," by Chris Ocuwun (New Vision), 16
July 2009, http://www.newvision.co.ug/D/8/13/688173
"The Netherlands ambassador, Jeroen Verheul, has said LRA rebel leader Joseph
Kony should be punished at the International Criminal Court (ICC) or the war
division of court in Kampala for the crimes he committed in northern Uganda.
LRA must be punished - Envoy 'There is need to ensure that those who committed
atrocities against innocent civilians don't go unpunished. The victims of this
war do not want impunity. Impunity is like a disease.'
He was on Thursday speaking during a ceremony to unveil a peace monument at the
main round-about in Gulu town. The monument was built by the Netherlands
iii. "Acholi Leaders Criticise ICC's Operations," by Moses Akena and David L.
Okumu (The Monitor), 6 August 2009,
"Leaders from Gulu on Tuesday criticised the International Criminal Court over
the way it has ignored a number of issues in its pursuit for peace in northern
The participants, drawn from the political, civic and the military spheres,
engaged Ms Maria Kamara, the outreach coordinator of the ICC in Uganda, on the
arrests of LRA leader Joseph Kony and his top commanders, the traditional
justice mechanism, and the implications of the indictment and arrest warrant
against Sudanese leader Omar El Bashir on the situation in northern Uganda.
... Ms Kamara... clarified that the ICC is not imposing itself on the
traditional justice system, but only fulfilling its mandate of bringing justice
to the victims of the conflict.
The ICC has been conducting outreaches to consult with the affected peoples,
their role and involvement in the trial process
...The UPDF 4th Division spokesperson, Capt. Ronald Kakurungu, challenged the
position of the court, especially on the impending arrest of Sudanese president
In her response, Ms Kamara said some of the African countries are not party to
the ICC, especially Libya, the current chair of the African Union. This, she
says, has made it challenging to arrest and prosecute Mr Bashir.
She said the African countries are not cooperating because of conflict of
iv. "Ugandan peace deal in danger of collapse," by Matt Brown (The National), 17
"A peace agreement between the Ugandan government and a notorious rebel group is
in jeopardy after the rebels' chief negotiator abruptly quit to pursue a career
The breakdown comes as attacks by the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) continue in
neighbouring countries, though not in Uganda, prompting calls for renewed
David Matsanga, the LRA's peace negotiator, spent most of the past three years
hammering out a deal to end Uganda's two-decade civil war. A final peace
agreement was reached in late 2008, but Joseph Kony, the rebel leader wanted by
the International Criminal Court, has refused to sign the deal unless the ICC
drops its indictments.
Mr Matsanga resigned on Friday telling reporters in Nairobi that his job is
finished, and that LRA operations outside of Uganda are out of his control.
'As LRA peace negotiators, we have achieved our goals,' he said. 'Peace has
returned to northern Uganda. The LRA fighters are now beyond our capacity and as
such, we cannot chase General Kony for the signature. The signature has become
v. "Multiple approaches needed to resolve conflict in Uganda," Modern Ghana, 12
"Multiple approaches involving local and international agents are needed to
resolve the conflict in northern Uganda, research from the University of
Professor Paul Jackson, from the University's International Development
Department carried out an analysis of the situation in that country with regard
to the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) and the possibilities for peace in northern
His findings, published in Roundtable, the Journal of Commonwealth Journal of
International Affairs reveal that the conflict in the country can be linked to
the involvement of Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Central African
Republic. The divisions within the LRA and the inability of the International
Criminal Court (ICC) to fulfil its mandate also contribute to the crisis. ..."
vi. "Blood on their hands," by Tabu Butagira & Zoe Richards (The Monitor),
16 August 2009,
"The former UN under secretary-general for children in armed conflict, Dr Olara
Otunnu, has rattled authorities in Kampala, announcing he has gathered
substantial evidence to incriminate President Yoweri Museveni's government on
charges of attempting to wipe out the northerners.
Dr Otunnu, who is expected to return to Uganda on Saturday, told the BBC Network
Africa programme in an interview on Wednesday that the national army, UPDF,
during its military offensive against Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) rebels,
committed 'atrocities, other human rights abuses and genocide in northern
vii. "LRA Peace Negotiator Quits," by Kylie M Tsudama (Impunity Watch), 15
viii. "Chief Negotiator for Ugandan Rebel Leader Quits," by Alan Boswell (VOA),
15 August 2009, http://www.voanews.com/english/2009-08-15-voa12.cfm
ix. "LRA Team in Peace Talks Resigns," by Paul Juma (Daily Nation), 14 August
x. "Uganda rebel negotiator says to run for president," AFP, 14 August 2009,
xi. "Resolve Uganda calls on Secretary Clinton to address LRA violence in
upcoming trip to DR Congo," Resolve Uganda, 4 August 2009,
xii. "Civil War in Uganda, Illustrated and in Panels," by George Gene Gustines
(New York Times), 11 August 2009,
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