ICTJ Forum: A Critical Time for Justice in Uganda

2/12/2014

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In the latest episode of the ICTJ forum, Michael Otim, Director of ICTJ’s Uganda program, explains why the country has arrived at a critical moment in the struggle for truth, justice, and reparation for victims.

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In this interview with ICTJ’s Hannah Dunphy, Michael Otim shares insight on the transitional justice efforts currently taking place on the ground in Uganda as it recovers from armed conflict, including the protracted two-year conflict in Northern Uganda, which pitted the rebel Lord’s Resistance Army against the government of Uganda.

Peace negotiations in 2008 included an agreement on accountability and reconciliation, which committed the government to implementing transitional justice measures that would provide remedy to victims of the conflict. Otim explains that while the Juba Process on Accountability and Reconciliation was a positive step, it recognized that no single mechanism would sufficiently address all of the complex needs and rights of the victims.

Since the 2008 negotiations, the government of Uganda has taken various steps since the negotiations to implement the transitional justice policy as well as the proposal to put in place a truth-seeking process and reparations initiatives, but has not yet managed to deliver a comprehensive approach to the different dimensions of reform and justice needed for the country.

Today, Otim reports that key transitional justice legislation is now awaiting approval from Uganda cabinet, where it will be sent on the parliament, allowing the government to spearhead a process to develop key laws to help realize full implementation of the transitional justice process.

“We think it’s quite a critical moment to move the transitional justice process forward,” says Otim.

Despite positive signs that the country will finally engage in comprehensive justice measures, he stresses that consultation with victims—a critical step in the development of transitional measures—has so far been absent.

“We need to have an inclusive and participatory process, in particular for marginalized groups, especially women and children,” he says. “The government needs to expeditiously move forward in ensuring the full-scale implementation of the policy so victims get a sense of justice for the violations that they experienced.”


Photo: AP Images