Muddy Notebook

February 21, 2008

Rebels, Kampala agree on national war crimes court

Filed under: northern Uganda — carolynthewriter @ 11:12 am

This agreement seems to overcome one of the biggest hurdles in the peace talks taking place in Juba, South Sudan. It tries to strike a reasonable balance between pursuing peace and holding the major players in the Lord’s Resistance Army, especially its leader Joseph Kony, responsible for their acts. Rather than use the International Criminal Court, which really never should have taken this case anyhow, the pact calls for traditional justice for lower-level LRA members and a special Ugandan court venue for Kony and his top lieutenants. It would be unfair – and wrong – to ignore that the government gets to avoid scrutiny for its multiple misdeeds in this war. Still, peace is better than war and stolen childhoods.

Human rights groups, not to mention the ICC, are unhappy with the agreement since it would sidestep the International Criminal Court indictments against Kony and two others. As I mentioned, this case should not really have come before the ICC, which is supposed to become involved if the country where atrocities have occurred does not have a sufficient national justice system to deal with the perpetrators. Uganda does have a court, though it will require international monitoring to ensure transparent and proper proceedings take place. Postponing the ICC indictments does not mean there will be no justice, or even justice at the Hague. It simply means peace should come first. Then, we can see how justice is found. Still, there is a long way to go before that point.

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