Uganda: United Against International Justice

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February 23, 2008: The ICC decision to continue to pursue its warrants has direct ramifications on the Uganda-LRA peace process. If the LRA does sign a peace agreement, the senior members of the LRA risk facing arrest and trial in an international court. This is the dilemma that most "insurgent wars" confront; over the course of the conflict, war crimes are committed. The ICC indictments of LRA senior commanders are very telling. The leaders are charged with murder, sexual abuse of children and kidnapped women, looting and abduction (mostly of women and children). Judicial institutions in countries like Uganda are at best described as "fragile." That is usually a euphemism for several traits, like corruption, minimal competence, and extraordinary influence of government elites or the military on judicial decisions. The ICC is certainly part of the Uganda-LRA peace process. Maybe they need a negotiator at the table. (Austin Bay)

February 22, 2008: The LRA signed a peace deal with the government. Key terms are government protection, for LRA leaders, from prosecution. LRA leaders will also receive government jobs. The terms take effect once the LRA disarms.

February 21, 2008: The International Criminal Court (ICC) announced that it would continue to seek the arrest of senior LRA leaders. Despite an agreement by the government of Uganda and the LRA that indicted LRA leaders would be tried in Ugandan courts, the ICC argued that its warrants are still in force. Essentially the ICC is saying that only ICC judges can decide to drop ICC arrest warrants. The LRA has taken the position that it will not agree to a final peace treaty until the ICC indictments are dismissed.

LRA negotiators quit the Juba peace talks after the Ugandan government said that it would not promise positions in the government to LRA rebels. The LRA is also at odds with the mediation teams and the Ugandan government over finances. Since mid-2007 the LRA has complained that it lacks the funds to support its end of the negotiating process.

February 19, 2008: The Ugandan government said that it had signed a deal with the LRA that crimes committed by LRA commanders during the war would be "tried under a special division of the High Court of Uganda." The deal is an attempt to circumvent the indictments of senior LRA commanders by the ICC.

February 10, 2008: Peace mediators at the Juba peace talks said that they have teams investigating charges by the Government of South Sudan (GOSS) that LRA rebels have launched numerous attacks on civilians in South Sudan. South Sudanese officials have asked the Ugandan government to help stop the raids. This is something of a conundrum. If the Ugandan Army helped stop LRA movements in Sudan it would be accused by the LRA of violating the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement (the current document that frames the Uganda-LRA peace process).

 

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