“Uganda’s International Crimes Division Court Attracts Massive Critique,” Uganda Radio Network, 14 July 2011
By Joe Wacha
The War Crimes Division of Uganda High court has come under sharp criticism from some members of the public only a few days after it started trying Thomas Kwoyelo, the former LRA director of operations.
Uganda’s International Crimes Division Court has come under sharp criticism from some members of the public only a few days after it started trying Thomas Kwoyelo, the former LRA director of operations. Kwoyelo is facing 53 counts of crimes for his alleged involvement in the LRA war from 1987 to 2005, when he was captured by government forces.
However, some people in Northern Uganda doubt whether the Uganda War Crimes Division court has the capacity to competently prosecute suspects. Bosco Ocan, a resident of Layibi Techo in Gulu municipality says that he doubts the independence of the judicial system in Uganda to be able to competently deliver justice.
Jane Akwero Odwong, a former Woman MP for Kitgum district is surprised that the court does not address crimes against gender. Adwong explains that whereas many women and girls were raped and subjected to sexual slavery during the war in northern Uganda, the charges have not been brought against Kwoyelo.
Louis Odong, another victim of the war complained that the court does not provide compensation for the people who suffered from the war and either lost relatives or property. Other people suggest that holding the trial nearer to the victims, only reminds them of the atrocities they suffered during the war.
However, not everyone is against the operation of the court. Onono Onweng, the retired Bishop of Northern Uganda says that court is a test and it is only right for it to draw critiques. He however hoped it would improve overtime.
Lino Owor Ogora, a transitional justice activist says that the court needs to lead in advocating the legislation of necessary laws for reparation and other areas people feel are not presently addressed.
But Tadeo Asiimwe, the registrar of the International Crimes Division of the High Court noted that the court is a permanent institution with the capacity to prosecute all war crimes and crimes against humanity. He added that the decision to move the trial to Gulu was intended to ensure the victims of the LRA war participate in the justice process.