Uganda: time to talk about reparations

UgandaNewsTransitional justice

Entebbe (Uganda), 5 September 2016 – On 26 and 27 September, ASF and REDRESS will organize an International Conference on Reparations in Uganda. The event marks a first step in discussing reparations for mass atrocities committed against the civilians in Uganda over the last 50 years. It will be an opportunity to exchange best practices from other contexts and draw recommendations with domestic and international experts. Violence and conflicts have plagued Uganda since its first post-independence government was formed in 1962. Of these, the most protracted opposed the government of Uganda and the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), mainly in the north and east of the country, with the most intense fighting occurring between the 1990s and 2006. During this period, a wide range of violations were committed against civilians, including murder, mutilation, rape, sexual slavery, destruction of property, abductions. The conflict was also marked by the recruitment and use of young children during the hostilities. These crimes have had a particular impact on the Ugandan society and the healing process in Uganda. In 2007, following the Juba Peace Agreement concluded with the LRA, the Ugandan government has progressively engaged into promoting reconciliation, preventing impunity for serious crimes and delivering justice to victims of gross human rights violations. Subsequently, the Justice Law and Order Sector* presented a draft national transitional justice policy to the government, with the aim of revealing the truth about past history, granting reparations at a national level and guaranteeing non-repetition of past atrocities. The Ugandan authorities further established a specific division of the High Court (the International Crimes Division, ICD) to try those responsible for genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and other international crimes. “For the first time in the history of Uganda, victims are entitled to participate to criminal proceedings and to claim reparations for the harm they have suffered as a result of the most heinous crimes committed in the country”, explains Ms. Bako Jane Patricia, ASF Program Officer in Kampala. “This is becoming a very live issue as the trial of former LRA warlord T. Kwoyelo is about to start before the ICD. The Ugandan authorities will also be confronted with this challenge to grant reparations at a national level and promote guarantees of non-repetition. These issues are crucial at a moment where Uganda seeks to strengthen its economic and social development”. It is in this context that ASF and REDRESS will organize an International Conference on Reparations in Uganda conveying Ugandan and international experts and stakeholders. This 2-days conference will identify the challenges of setting up and implementing reparations in Uganda, draw lessons learnt from other countries and present best practices and recommendations. The Conference will be held at the Imperial Botanical Hotel in Entebbe on 26 and 27 September 2016. Click here for the full program. Participation is free but organisers will not be able to cover travel, meals and accommodations costs incurred. Conference will be held in English. Registration is necessary by 19 September 2016: please contact Ms. Bako Jane Patricia, Program Officer, ASF (Tel: +256785138755) * A governmental body mandated to develop a holistic approach to improving access to and administration of justice.  
Cover picture: Sensitizations of war victims in Northern Uganda on national transitional justice policy © ASF