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Uganda: Latest news and opinions
16 Sept 2009
Please find below information about recent developments related to the
International Criminal Court's investigation in Uganda.
This message includes latest news coverage, in particular on a training of
Ugandan journalists on the ICC; LRA Thomas Kwoyelo's awaited trial; and on the
demand by the new Head of LRA's negotiating team of a revision of the peace deal
(I); as well as related opinion pieces, including views of the International
Crisis Group on the ICC; and Olara Otunnu's latest declarations (II).
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. LATEST NEWS ARTICLES
i. "ICC trains Ugandan journalists," New Vision, 10 September 2009,
"Germany and the International Criminal Law Services is conducting a two-week
training on the role of the International Criminal Court (ICC). A total of 12
Ugandan radio journalists are expected to attend.
The deputy head of mission of Germany, Stefan Messerer, said it was his
country's obligation to promote public awareness of the ICC.
He also appealed to the journalists to promote public awareness on the role of
the ICC and to sensitise the public about the court....."
ii. "LRA commander Kwoyelo awaits fate," by Alex Ocean (New Vision), 7 September
"The War Crimes Court, a special division of the High Court, is not ready to try
the former Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) commander, Thomas Kwoyelo, on
allegations of kidnap with intent to murder.
The court, created last year, is meant to try individuals accused of committing
crimes against humanity during the two decades of insurgency in the north.
The court registrar, Lawrence Tweyenze, last week said logistics needed to
handle such case were not yet in place.
However, Joan Kigezi, a prosecutor at the court, said evidence against suspects
accused of committing crimes against humanity had been tampered with and time
was needed to put it together. ..."
iii. "Ugandan rebels want peace deal revised," AFP, 29 August 2009,
"The Ugandan rebel Lord's Resistance Army's negotiating team yesterday announced
it had a new leader and demanded that a peace deal already signed by Kampala be
Justine Labeja told reporters in Nairobi he was the new acting head of the peace
team of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), following the August 14 announcement
by former delegation head David Matsanga that he was stepping down.
'Justine Labeja will forthwith act as the leader of the peace team until the
leadership of the LRA/M (Lord's Resistance Army/Movement) has pronounced itself
on the matter,' he said in a statement....
The LRA has repeatedly said it might be ready to face homegrown justice
mechanisms but has demanded that the ICC arrest warrants still facing Kony and
two of his top lieutenants be lifted....
'The Ugandan rebel group, the so-called Lord's Resistance Army, continues to
cause large scale destruction and displacement in the eastern Democratic
Republic of Congo,' said Andrej Mahecic, spokesman for the UN High Commissioner
for Refugees. ..."
iv. "UN forces to join hunt for Kony in Southern Sudan," by Henry Mukasa (New
Vision), 27 August 2009, http://www.newvision.co.ug/D/8/13/692651
"The United Nations is considering revising the mandate of its peacekeeping
forces in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Southern Sudan so that they can
join the hunt for LRA leader Joseph Kony. ..."
v. "Uganda troops catch top rebel in Central African Rep.," by Frank Nyakairu
(Reuters), 10 September 2009,
"The Ugandan military said on Thursday it had captured a feared senior rebel
from the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) who is accused of leading the massacre of
250 villagers more than 14 years ago.
Okot Atiak was apparently detained last month during a campaign against the
guerrillas by Ugandan forces in southeast Central African Republic (CAR).
... Atiak is not one of three top LRA commanders wanted for war crimes by
prosecutors at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, but he has
held several senior positions in one of Africa's most brutal rebel
vi. "Ugandan army says top rebel leader in captivity," Deutsche Presse-Agentur,
9 September 2009,
vii. "UN Should do more to end LRA menace," New Vision, 31 August 2009,
viii. "Uganda rebel attacks uproot more than 125,000 in central Africa," by
Frank Nyakairu (Reuters), 27 August 2009,
ix. "Uganda hunts LRA rebels in Central African Republic," by Jack Kimball
(Reuters), 7 September 2009,
x. "Uganda pursues rebels into CAR," BBC News, 8 September 2009,
xi. "Restoration of DRC-Uganda Ties Shows New Regional Cooperation," by Alan
Boswell (VOA), 31 August 2009,
II. RELATED OPINIONS AND REPORTS
i. "Ugandan Rebel Group Motives Unclear as Terror Campaign Expands," by Alan
Boswell (VOA), 27 August 2009,
"...Kony reportedly wants the International Criminal Court to drop its arrest
warrant against him before he signs any deal. Some have speculated that Kony
hopes his new destructive rampage will raise international pressure for renewed
But Louise Khabure, an analyst on the LRA for International Crisis Group, thinks
this analysis is unlikely.
'I like to look at things logically,' he said. 'What are your chances of
negotiating peace when now we have over 1000 civilians dead? I think it reduces
your chances and your ability to be able to talk peace and to talk amnesty.'
Khabure said that her best sense of the situation is that the LRA's original
objectives were long ago hijacked by the numerous outside groups who benefited
from the region's instability and began supporting Kony's rebels.
She says the list of alleged former supporters of the LRA include northern
Ugandan leaders, opposition leaders in the Ugandan diaspora, elements in south
Sudan, and Khartoum. Although she couldn't name who might now be sponsoring the
group, she thinks it's unlikely the LRA has been able to sustain its campaign
this long without outside help.
Unfortunately for the civilians who must live under the group's ravaged domain,
Khabure says that the military campaigns against the group are clearly not
'What is clear to me is that they don't seem cornered,' he said. 'The [Ugandan]
operation Lightning Thunder was launched, and to date we have no inkling from
Kony or the LRA that they are willing to talk, or that they are cornered, or
that they are under pressure.'..."
ii. "China opposes Kony arrest," Steven Candia and Lydia Namubiru (New Vision),
5 August 2009,
http://www.newvision.co.ug/D/8/12/690378?highlight&q=Kony and China
"The indictment of Sudan President Omar el-Bashir and LRA chief Joseph Kony is a
stumbling block to peace in Africa, according to China.
Addressing journalists at the Chinese embassy in Kampala, Ambassador Liu Guijin,
who also in charge of African affairs, said the warrants of arrest had only
iii. "They made me their slave: Former LRA child soldier," AFP, 30 August 2009,
"... The boys were fishing when the rebel fighters struck, dragging them off for
a slave life in one of the world's most notorious guerrilla armies. 'I thought
they would kill me,'said 16-year old Genekpio Kumbayo, seized in December from
the farming village of Faraj, in north-eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo
... Kumbayo was captured by the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), a Ugandan-led
rebel group, whose two-decades-long campaign of guerrilla raids continues to
terrorise a vast swathe of land across several nations in the region. 'For five
months they forced me to carry all their equipment,' Kumbayo said quietly. 'I
had no choice, they made me their slave - they kept us moving through the
forests, always hard at work. Unlike others, Kumbayo was relatively lucky.
...The LRA's top leaders - fugitives from the International Criminal Court - are
accused of having forcibly enlisted child soldiers and sex slaves, and of
slaughtering tens of thousands of people. 'They continue to threaten our
people,' said Colonel Joseph Ngere Paciko, deputy state governor of Western
Equatoria. Bordering DR Congo, it is the Sudanese region hit hardest by the
iv. "Are resurgent Ugandan rebels backed by Khartoum?," by Frank Nyakairu
(Reuters), 10 September 2009,
"... For most of its two-decade history, the LRA has swelled its ranks with
forced recruits from his Acholi homeland, even as it terrorised the Acholi
population and its neighbours with massacres and mutilations. But Arabic as an
operating language is a new phenomenon. Some intelligence sources say it
reflects a renewal of relations with the government of northern Sudan that
threatens to destabilise Sudan's own peace process after two decades of civil
It wouldn't be the first time the LRA has been accused of playing a role in
Sudan's north-south conflict, which killed around 2 million and uprooted
... Kony and Sudanese President Bashir have one thing in common: they are both
wanted by the International Criminal court (ICC) for war crimes and crimes
The Hague-based court issued an arrest warrant for Kony in 2005 on 33 counts,
while Bashir was indicted this year for crimes in Sudan's western Darfur region,
where the United Nations says as many as 300,000 people have died and more than
2.7 million have been driven from their homes.
Most of Africa's leaders have criticised the ICC move to indict Bashir. But
Uganda has not, seriously straining relations between the two countries. One
diplomat has been quoted as saying that if Bashir visited Uganda for a summit he
would be arrested.
'Uganda's and Sudan's relations will remain strained because Khartoum has never
closed its liaison office for the LRA and we know it,' said the diplomat.
Reports that the LRA in Western Equatoria has rearmed and resumed raids on
villages, displacing hundreds of thousands of people are fuelling fears that
Khartoum is once again supplying the group with weaponry.
'We have heard the LRA appears to be better armed than it has been in the recent
past...but we have no evidence to substantiate those allegations that Sudan is
supporting the LRA,' EJ Hogendoorn, International Crisis Group's Horn of Africa
analyst, told AlertNet in an interview.
And the Sudan Advocacy Group, a lobbying group led by the Washington-based
Enough Project, warned on Wednesday: 'An upsurge in violence by the Ugandan
Lord's Resistance Army, which the regime consistently used as a proxy during the
earlier civil war, worsens an already grim picture for civilian populations and
for stability in the south.'
LRA negotiators, based in Nairobi, have denied that recent attacks have taken
place and that the rebels are seeking a re-alliance with Khartoum.
'All those are just hearsay,' Justin Labeja told me in a telephone interview.
'The Uganda government is using its militia of former LRA to attack people and
claim it is us.'
The Ugandan army's 105 brigade, comprised of hundreds of former LRA soldiers,
has been used to fight the LRA. Kampala denies the allegations that it has
With ICC investigators active in Uganda, Congo and Central African Republic,
analysts see Sudan - one of the few countries that has not signed the Rome
Statute that is the foundation for the ICC - as a perfect safe haven for both
Kony and Bashir...."
v. "There is more heat than light in the northern Uganda debate," by Nobert Mao
(New Vision), 8 September 2009, http://www.newvision.co.ug/D/8/20/693846
"...For years, the focus has been on the Lord's Resistance Army's (LRA)
atrocities. Anybody who spoke out against the Government troops was accused of
being a rebel collaborator.
... Our stand has been clear - no blind spots for Kony's atrocities. We have
voiced out our condemnation of Kony's atrocities against innocent people. But we
have also not spared the Government troops. They have also tormented our people.
Since we expect more from them, we have appeared to lash out against them more
forcefully whenever they have committed atrocities.
... There should be room for disagreement where the interests of the people are
at stake. In the interest of our people and nation, we shall co-operate with the
Government where possible and confront it where necessary.
If we want a better Uganda, we must lay the ghosts of the past to rest. We need
a national healing process. Wild, unfounded allegations will not do. Denials
will also not do. Right now there is more heat than light in the debate over
government atrocities in the north. We need light. ...
The writer is the chairman of Gulu district."
vi. "ICC should indict Museveni - Otunnu," by Kiwanuka Lawrence (The Observer),
19 August 2009,
On Saturday, August 22, 2009, Olara Otunnu, Uganda's most prominent diplomat,
returns to the country of his birth after 24 years in exile. ...
'The truth is that Museveni is one of the biggest war criminals of our time. To
be taken seriously and to have credibility, the International Criminal Court
(ICC) cannot evade indicting him, specifically for the following categories of
crimes; genocide, crimes against humanity, and crimes of war.
He committed these crimes in Uganda and the Congo; there is extensive and
overwhelming evidence to warrant many counts of indictment against him. Sadly,
thus far, Museveni has simply used the ICC to do his political bidding. ICC
accountability must not be politically selective, nor should it be reserved only
for the weak, the friendless, and the fallen...."
vii. "Blood on their hands," by Tabu Butagira & Zoe Richards (Sunday Monitor),
16 August 2009,
"... Amnesty International, a UK-based human rights group, in a report released
last year said while fighting the Joseph Kony-led LRA insurgents and the Ugandan
military terrorised and randomly eliminated civilians perceived to be rebel
collaborators. The army has since denied those allegations but the latest claims
could potentially resurrect debate on the need for a commission of inquiry to
unmask what each side - the UPDF and rebels - did during the protracted
viii. "Otunnu's notion of genocide in the North very absurd," by Lt. Col. Felix
Kulayigye (Daily Monitor), 4 September 2009,
"Dr Olara Otunnu has, on various occasions, referred to the situation that was
obtaining in northern Uganda during the conflict as genocide, the Internally
Displaced Peoples camps as concentration camps (he has received support from
Aswa County MP Reagan Okumu) and the leadership in Uganda as a 'Museveni
We in the Uganda People's Defence Forces (UPDF), find those allegations, though
serious and very grave, but considering the actual meaning of those terms and
the circumstances of the utterances, very absurd, pathetic and the whole notion
ix. "Africa: Resisting the Lord's Army," by Edoardo Totolo (ISN Security Watch),
3 September 2009,
"As the Lord's Resistance Army steps up its brutality against civilians in
response to failed peace talks and military efforts to end the violence, African
governments seek to join forces against the group and the UN promises new
peacekeeping mandates, Edoardo Totolo writes for ISN Security Watch. ..."
x. "MP Okumu lists Acholi 'killed by army," by Yasiin Mugerwa & Gerald Bareebe
(Daily Monitor), 26 August 2009,
xi. "Killings: Government fears the truth, says Muntu," by Emmanuel Gyezaho
(Daily Monitor), 1 September 2009,
xii. "Uganda: Killings in Acholi - Who is to Blame?", by Risdel Kasasira (The
Monitor), 30 August 2009, http://allafrica.com/stories/200908310592.html
xiii. "Muntu, Saleh clash over Acholi killings," by Risdel Kasasira (The Daily
Monitor), 27 August 2009,
xiv. "Excitement as Otunnu arrives," by Angelo Izama & Richard Wanambwa (Sunday
Monitor), 23 August 2009,
xv. "How do we deal with Otunnu? Govt ponders," by Risdel Kasasira & Ismail Musa
Ladu (Sunday Monitor), 23 August 2009,
xvi. "Violence, Exile and Transitional Justice: Perspectives of Urban IDPs in
Kampala,'" Briefing Note No.3, August 2009,
xvii. "Women@War," by Chris Blattman, 21 August 2009,
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
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legal and other support on investigations, or develop partnerships with local
and other organizations in the course of their efforts.
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