In order to ensure that victim’s voices and interests are at the forefront of contestants’ minds in the upcoming 2011 Ugandan elections, we have designed a comprehensive campaign to put transitional justice on the election agenda.
Internationally, transitional justice, or TJ, is increasingly recognized as an important tool in resolving post-conflict instability and inter-communal tensions. However, in many circles, especially among politicians and policy-makers, TJ still remains underestimated and largely misunderstood. Yet, in a country like Uganda, marred by a history of violence and unrest, citizens and leaders informed of the merits of TJ mechanisms are vital to healing the wounds of war and ensuring the sustainability of peace—locally, regionally, and nationally.
At the Justice and Reconciliation Project (JRP), we work with grassroots communities to explore and engage on issues of justice and reconciliation and seek opportunities for war-affected communities to share their thoughts, ideas, and concerns with stakeholders and TJ actors. As Uganda prepares for the upcoming election season and reflects on the leadership of the last five years, we see an immense opportunity for war-affected communities to influence the direction that the justice and reconciliation debate takes in this country, whilst informing aspiring politicians of the political and social value of prioritizing transitional justice.
In order to ensure that victim’s voices and interests are at the forefront of contestants’ minds in the upcoming 2011 Ugandan elections, transitional justice must be prioritized on the election agenda. To do so, war-affected communities must demand that their concerns be addressed and acknowledged by candidates and parties contesting for seats in local and national government.
Moreover, this election needs candidates and parties that commit to sustainable peace in Uganda and that requires not only forward-looking planning and development, but also stakeholders who address past abuses and feelings of injustice. It is our belief, guided by the ideas of the communities in which we work, that votes this election should therefore be in favor of those who will commit themselves once elected to:
- Accountability for past abuses: That they support a fair, transparent and balanced national transitional justice system that includes judicial investigations and prosecutions and traditional justice mechanisms, so those responsible for human rights violations are held accountable.
- National reconciliation through truth-telling: That they support provisions for truth-telling both at the national and community-levels, so that forgiveness, healing and reconciliation can take place in Uganda.
- Reparations for war victims: That they support a national reparations policy to fairly administer reparations to war victims in Uganda. There is need for coordination of all compensation efforts to ensure that reparations schemes across the country are consistent and that victims are consulted throughout the process.
- Memorialization: That they commit to undertake symbolic measures to promote remembrance, healing and closure nationally and among their constituencies.
- Gender justice: That they support efforts that challenge impunity for sexual and gender-based violence and ensure women and children’s equal access to redress of human rights violations.
- Structural reforms: That they support efforts that transform state institutions from instruments of repression and corruption to instruments of public service delivery and integrity, with a transparent and independent military, police and judiciary.
Throughout the region, and unfortunately much of the world, there is still a profound lack of understanding of how transitional justice can be effectively implemented. But by mobilizing war-affected communities to demand their grievances be addressed and acknowledged, we are providing communities and the country at large a space for reflection, debate, and analysis of the issues.
This strategy to encourage voters to hold candidates accountable matches our general approach to community involvement: the most successful activities will engage and empower communities to act for themselves. By reminding voters to ask their candidates where TJ is in their manifestos and then offering six general action points to guide their advocacy, we frame these communities’ arguments into a unifying demand that provides strength in numbers.
For comments related to this campaign or to get involved, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
To download the campaign cards in English, click here.
To download the campaign cards in Luo, click TJ Election Card [LUO].
To download an article on the campaign by Lindsay McClain, click here.