Saturday, December 15, 2012

By Moses Sserwanga UNDERSTANDING TRANSITIONAL JUSTICE TO REDRESS LRA'S WAR CRIMES AND OTHER HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS IN NORTHERN UGANDA Transitional Justice has emerged as one of the key thematic (read theme/subject)areas for the Justice, Law and Order Sector (JLOS) to promote justice and accountability for past human rights violations and war crimes for victims in Uganda’s conflict-affected areas. Our country has witnessed turbulence predating independence, and has since then been grappling with finding lasting solutions to issues of human rights violations , destruction property in war affected areas. Lives were lost, persons disappeared, human rights were abused and violated, children were abducted and people maimed. The future of many children whose life opportunities have been lost remains uncertain; it is only noble to say that the scars of our past vividly haunt us. In order to redress these injustices, the Justice Law and Order Sector, (JLOS) has put in place a Transitional Justice process and mechanisms associated with a society’s attempt to come to terms with a legacy of large-scale past abuses to ensure accountability, serve justice and achieve reconciliation. According to the Transitional Justice technical Advisor at the JLOS Secretariat , Ms. Margaret Ajok, Transitional Justice consists of both judicial and non –judicial processes and mechanisms which include prosecution initiatives, truth seeking and reparation programs. “ Through this system we want to promote justice and accountability for past human rights violations and war crimes. We are going to enhance access to justice and provide basic services for victims in Uganda’s conflict affected areas with emphasis on the rights of vulnerable groups (women and Children),” she says. Ajok explained that the Transitional justice agenda in Uganda was brought on board with the signing of the 2007 Juba Agreement on accountability and reconciliation. “The spirit of the agreement is the need to adopt appropriate justice mechanisms to resolve the two-decade war in Northern Uganda and to promote accountability and reconciliation. The agreement requires that the Government of Uganda adopt appropriate policy framework for the implementation of the terms of the agreement, introduce amendments to the amnesty the law to conform with the agreement and undertake legal proceedings nationally or internationally, “ she stated. In 2008, a Justice Law and Order Sector (JLOS) Transitional Justice Working Group (TJWG) was established to critically think through the practical issues that have to be addressed before transitional justice mechanisms on accountability and reconciliation are institutionalised. The working group consists of individuals from core JLOS institutions selected based on their comparative role in implementing the commitment in the Juba peace agreement in accountability and reconciliation. The working group is divided into the formal criminal jurisdiction, traditional justice, traditional justice truth telling and integrated systems sub - committees in order to expedite the work of the working group to tackle different thematic areas with representatives nominated from the various institutions. These institutions include the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs (MoJCA), the Judiciary, The Uganda Law Reform Commission (ULRC), the Uganda Police Force, the Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP), the Judicial Service Commission (JSC), the Ministry In 2009, the formal justice sub committees undertook consultations on the use of formal criminal prosecutions in addressing impunity with specific regard to the then proposed International Criminal Court (ICC) Bill. The outcome of the study led to proposals for amendment of the Bill which is now law - the International Criminal Court Act, 2010[1]. The Act serves as the legal framework for bringing perpetrators of war atrocities to account for their actions. In 2010, the 15th Annual Government of Uganda – Development Partner Review meeting was held whereby transitional justice featured as an important commitment of the Sector. JLOS has since adopted transitional justice as an important process to deliver justice for conflict affected regions and communities in Uganda through the sector wide approach. Transitional justice is also being incorporated into JLOS strategic investment plan III. In 2011, the sector undertook national consultations on the use of traditional justice and truth telling mechanisms in the promotion of accountability and reconciliation. Findings from the consultations will lead to the development of policy proposals on alternative justice mechanisms, including truth-seeking, traditional justice and reparations. National Transitional Justice Policy: The National Transitional Justice Policy will be developed in accordance with the Juba Agreement on Accountability and Reconciliation (2007). Equally, the views and aspirations of the people who were affected by the conflict are being taken into consideration. The agreement emphasizes victims’ rights and participation with special attention to the situation of women and children who were affected by conflict and promotion of a holistic approach to justice. “The policy will therefore address issues of justice and reconciliation through a number of methods ,including: traditional justice mechanisms, reparations, and social reintegration of conflict affected communities , including amnesty reporters and victims of serious violations. The writer is a human rights lawyer, trainer,development communication/media consultant and advocate of High Court of Uganda

Friday, November 2, 2012


In an exclusive interview with Gov’t Review held at state house Nakasero on a bright sunny Monday afternoon, the First Lady and Minister for Karamoja, Mrs. Janet Museveni, revealed what motivates her to serve her country. (see our lead story and full interview inside.) Mrs Museveni says thus; “It’s my duty, just like I believe that it’s a duty of every Ugandan to improve every part of Uganda. We must work to ensure that Uganda can become an interesting place to visit instead of us admiring other countries and thinking that our own country is not interesting, it’s not developed. If we don’t do that work ourselves, Uganda will never become better. Besides, those countries we look at and admire have been beautified by their own people. So it’s up to us to work and ensure that Uganda becomes better and that means every part of Uganda, every corner of Uganda- so that the next generation which will come after us will find a better place to live and work.” We at Gov’t Review a publication which is premised at publishing information about Uganda’s development agenda and explain government policy -to inspire Ugandans to do much more for our country, are in total agreement with Mrs. Museveni’s views about the path our country should take for greater economic growth and development. The great American leader, John F Kennedy at his inauguration in Washington on January 20 1961, stated; “ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.” We believe that a time has come for Ugandans as well, to ask what they can do for their country instead of waiting for handouts from our development partners or more still the central government. Mrs. Museveni, made a more comprehensive case for Ugandans especially the young generation to embrace hard work and be patriotic citizens . This is what we need if we are to remain a truly competitive nation in a tight global economic arena where the gap between the wealthy and poor is widening everyday. Let Ugandans ride on the good government ecomomic policies and targeted interventions like the affirmative action in Karimoja region and the youth fund to emancipate ourselves and make a meaningful contribution for individual growth and national development. Government has stood-up for Karamoja a hitherto neglected ,isolated part of our country and we support Mrs. Janet Museveni who is running the Karamoja docket under the Office of the Prime Minister in her endeavour to lead the transformation of the region . She is rallying the region for the larger purpose of greater freedom and revival. Executive Editor

Sunday, July 22, 2012


THE OTHER SIDE OF THE LAW BY MOSES SSERWANGA IS JLOS DELIVERING ON IT’S PROMISE Since the NRM government led by President Yoweri Museveni took over power by legal Notice No. 1 of 1986 significant inroads have been made in putting the country on a constitutional path . It’s imperative therefore to examine how the Justice Law and Order Sector performed in the last 10 years . Just like any other revolution that overthrows another government, when the NRM captured power after a 5 year war , it immediately suspended the 1967 Constitution by legal Notice No.1 of 1986 and among other things vested the NRC with supreme authority of the government including the legislative powers of the legislature (Parliament). The Legal Notice No. 1 stipulated what kind of leadership the NRM wanted to implement in the country. And since constitutionalism was one of the grievances that led Museveni and his fighters to the bush to wage a protracted war against what was perceived to be a doctorial government led by the late President Milton Obote, It was planned that the country would have a national constitution where people’s views were to be considered. And in 1995 Ugandans came up with this Constitution which effectively ended the operation of the NRM Legal Notice I. By any standards, the 1995 constitution which was promulgated after country wide consultations and fierce debate in the Constituent Assembly, was a good document ; that provided for fundamental human rights in chapter four of its pages, separation of powers between the judiciary, legislature and the executive and more significantly provided for presidential term limits. And once the Constitution was in place, government through parliament has gone a head to enact many good laws to fight corruption and ensure public accountability and transparency, protection of the environment and natural resources and ensure public order , security of persons and property and the rule of law generally. More still the 10 ten last years , have seen government a Strategic Investment Plan (SIP 1& 2) and it’s now rolling out SIP III for the next five years 2012/13-2017, to ensure the rule of law and justice for all Ugandan irrespective of their gender, age and social status. The Justice Law and Order Sector (JLOS) is a sector wide approach that brings together 17institutions responsible for administering justice maintaining law and order and promoting the observance of human rights. For the record the JLOS 17 institutions include , Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs (MoJCA)which is the Lead Institution , the Judiciary, Centre for Arbitration and Dispute Resolution (CADER),Directorate of Citizenship and Immigration Control (DCIC),Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Judicial Service Commission (JSC), Law Development Centre (LDC), Ministry of Gender, Labor and Social Development(MoGLSD)-Juvenile Justice, and Ministry of Internal Affairs(MIA). Others are the Ministry of Local Government(Local Council Courts),Tax Appeals Tribunal (TAT),Uganda Human Rights Commission (UHRC),Uganda Law Reform Commission (ULRC), Uganda Law Society (ULS), Uganda Police Force (UPF), Uganda Prison Service (UPS), and Uganda Registration Services Bureau (URSB). New innovations some of which have won international awards have been brought on board such as the Chain Linked Initiative to fast track justice and community policing to prevent crime. On the whole , It can be argued that to some extent great strides have been made in realization of the rule of law and administration of justice. This is evidenced through the creation of Specialised divisions of the High Court which include ,the Commercial, land, family, criminal , anti corruption High Court divisions among others. The number of magistrates and judges on the bench has more than doubled and the judicial service delivery facilities including court premises have been renovated and new ones constructed although the justice sector is still under-funded. But although government has made tremendous effort in ensuring a functioning and fair justice system in the country, there many inherent weakness and in some cases out right violations of the spirit of our national Constitution. Some of the subsidiary laws enacted have tended to take away some of the rights protected under the constitution . The constitution itself has since been amended to remove term limits a decision that has been widely criticized. Since 1999 the Constitution has been amended 48 times setting a new record. Although among other amendments to the constitution was the establishment of a multi-party democracy. But on many occasions the presidential and local elections held under the pluralism system have been disputed for alleged lack of democratic political space, violence and voter bribery. The government also seems weak in implementation of the many laws that have been enacted and once it has come out to apply the law –it has been in many cases selectively done. The Inspector General of Government report produced together with the Economic Policy Research Center of Makerere University -2010 noted the poor implementation of laws that are supposed to ensure justice for all. It was reported that Uganda had almost 90% weak implementation of laws, most especially anti-corruption legislation. There’s also poor facilitation of agencies that are supposed to provide justice and law. The police is poorly facilitated thus being ranked as one of the most corrupt institutions. In the process justice is defeated and hence denied. The judiciary too has lamented over poor pay. The Chief Justice recently advocated an increase in the salary of judicial officers. This has affected the justice system in the country. Last year the IGG's report mentioned the judiciary as one of those agencies that have been hit by corruption. With poor pay of judicial officers corruption related cases have been reported against some judicial officers and yet they are supposed to be custodians of our laws. Justice cannot be delivered where the judiciary is perforated with corruption. The IGG office was established to ensure accountability among public officials and fight the corruption vise . But the office started off on the wrong premise as it was placed under the President’s Office hence its independence was questioned. It is now a constitutional office. The Leadership Code is among the tools the IGG is meant to enforce against public servants so that none has ill gotten wealth. It is still an uphill task to implement. Article 235A of the Constitution establishes the Leadership Code Tribunal to handle cases involving politicians that violate the Code however 7 years later it has not been constituted. The Office of the Auditor General is now independent able to regulate its funds and recruit staff in order to monitor government expenditure. The office is still thin on the ground. Proposals to amend the Constitution to deny the right of bail have gone a long away in threatening the justice doctrine enshrined in our constitution that a person is presumed innocent until proved guilt. Further still ,there is little or no effort at all to educate the Ugandan people about their constitutional rights and what is contained in the many good laws that have been enacted by parliament . The end result is that many people continue to suffer silently . Implementation of the enacted laws should be adhered to. Otherwise they cease to address the purpose for which they were enacted and end up being rendered redundant. Performance contracts should strictly be implemented and adequate funding towards JLOS institutions and their over site agencies should be revised upwards. Justice must be seen to be done . This article was first published in Gov’t Review a monthly publication that focuses on Uganda’s national development issues The writer is a development communications consultant and advocate of the High Court of Uganda

Saturday, July 14, 2012


EDITOR’S NOTE Today marks yet another milestone in Uganda’s media industry as we have come to know it .Government Review , a new monthly development oriented magazine with unique content, projection and disposition, has been born. Tailored at promoting the national development agenda, the magazine shall exclusively focus on critical national development issues to ensure public accountability, transparency and good government. So, in effect , there will be moderate focus on politics and more emphasis on development matters in this magazine\s columns. As a development mouthpiece, we shall strive to practice a brand of journalism that is fair and balanced, always publishing well researched and accurate information about the central and local government performance; policy reviews across all sectors to enable citizens participate in their country's development agenda. This is a media platform crafted to showcase the key development success stories while not losing sight of the challenges that confront the country and what should be done to overcome those challenges. We shall talk to the national and local leaders, the business gurus and our development partners to bring to you their thoughts about government’s national development policies and programs and how there are meant to benefit the Ugandan people. We acknowledge and thank government ministries and agencies that have worked with us to put together this publication. And from the onset, therefore, we at Government Review ,owe our readers a great debt of gratitude for your promise to stand with us and together help develop our country. Moses Sserwanga Executive Editor

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Arachek Dam set to transform agriculture in karamoja MS For decades, long dry spells have wrecked havoc in the Karamoja sub region leaving thousands of people to move long distances in search of water. But with the construction of new dams across the region under the supervision of the first lady Janet Museveni who is also the Minister in Charge of Karamoja, the Karamojong’s agony is nearing an end. A new three kilometer long valley dam- the biggest in the country has been constructed at Arechek in Napak district to provide clean water to thousands of people. “ If it weren’t for the Minister in Charge of Karamoja Affairs, Janet Museveni, this project wouldn’t be here. Can you imagine it has taken less that two years to complete it yet the people of Karamoja have waited for a long time to get a valley dam here. This is because Mrs. Museveni has made everyone here accountable including our contractors. The people of Karamoja are very excited about the valley dam project and are looking forward to the benefits especially provision of water for human and animal consumption. We are now in position to have water throughout the year and this is going to boost agricultural sector in this region,” Joseph Lamongin ,Chief Administrative Officer, (CAO) of the newly created Napak district says. The multipurpose Arechek valley dam, which has been constructed at shs.6.2bn will provide 2.5M cubic centimeters of water. “This is value for money. We are now planning for irrigation. The valley dam will also provide water for the communities who are now agro-pastoralists. We shall treat the water for human consumption-something that has never been heard of in this region,” Lamongin stated. And the valley dam is not only set to transform the livelihood of the karamojong –it’s also fast becoming a tourists attraction. “ People who are coming to the region including foreign visitors pass-by to see this beautiful development. Many are mistaking it for a lake,” says one of the residents. Napak district with it’s new symbol of development is one of the seven districts that been carved out of from Moroto district in the Karamoja region. With an estimated population of 176,000 (Males: 87,300 (49.5%); Females: 89,200 (50.5%) Napak has 28 government aided Primary Schools and 11 Community Schools. There three secondary Schools, 1 Technical School –Nawaikorot and 40 Sedentary -Alternative Basic Education for Karamojong (ABEK) Centres (29 in Nawaikorot and 11 in Naitakwae Parishes of Ngoleriet Sub County). By 2010 , Napak had registered an enrollment of 17,651 primary school going pupils-,9,919 of them boys and 7,732 girls. Kangole Senior Secondary School there are 775 students and Andrew and St. Daniel Comboni SS with a student population of 190 and 585, respectively. But with all these achievements registered in Napak district’s education sector , there are challenges too. Lamongin says that while the district is registering an increased enrollment of pupils and students, there are still very few teachers. “ Many schools are also located in hard to reach areas due to a poor road network, lack of transport for monitoring, Supervision and inspection.” About the health facilities, the district has no government hospital but there is a Matany missionary hospital with a nursing school. This hospital is supplemented by 11 health Units. . General Health Indicators for Napak District are Infant mortality rate 105-1000 compared to the national average which is 76/1000,Under 5 mortality rate 174/1000 while national average is 137/1000;Maternal mortality rate 620/100,000 national is 435/100,000;Women in child bearing age 47.8% national48%. The life expectancy in Napak is still very low at 32 years compared to the national average which is now 50 years; the district fertility rate of 7.2 is high and above the national average of 6.2. At 57% of the population in Napak walk 5km to reach a health unit and the nurses per population ratio is at an alarming 1: 2,300 and doctors per population1:40,000. The immunization coverage in the district is 55%compared to the national average at 59%. The people of Karamoja are also changing their way of life from living a purely pastoral life style where they move from one place to another largely in search of pasture for their big herds of cattle to agro-pastoral and thus settling in communities. “ The are now adopting to farming and we have introduce new improved crops like cassava and matoke. Now you are beginning to see the Karamojong settling down in communities. And because of this, we now have 50 functional farmer groups per sub county supported by various development partners and the central government through the Naads and Peace Recovery Development Programme (PRDP) which being implemented in eastern, karamoja and northern regions. The district officials are also making efforts to extend clean water to the communities. At least 256 boreholes have been sunk with the water coverage now standing at 78%. Piped water is only found in Kangole urban center. The Matany water supply was constructed by the Ministry of Water and Environment complete with a Solar Systems but the scheme is non functional. “ The scheme has been revisited by the Ministry Engineers but with no feedback on when it will be rectified, the Cao says. There is also a mini water scheme in Iriiri constructed under ECHO project mainly to serve the health centre in the Trading Centre. The construction and maintenance of roads has been taken over by the Uganda National Roads Authority. The roads include Matany – Lokopo 16Km ,Lokopo – Turutuko – Apeitolim 60Km ,Lopeei – Turutuko 20Km,Kangole – Lotome 13Km,Iriiri – Apeitolim 30Km. “Our road network although not tarmacked its very motorable. It used to take 3 hours to drive from Napak to Iriir now it takes less than 45 minutes. Local revenue generation is still a problem in Napak just like many other local governments. Out of annual budget of shs.10bn only shs.125m is collected locally . “ We are just recovering from insecurity and the people are very poor. The central government should allow us to collect more taxes so that we deliver on the many demands from the people,” says the Cao. He was however happy to note that through Nusaf II and PRDP, the central government was supporting Alternative livelihood by training the community to engage in income generating activities like improved agricultural techniques to increase crop and animal production and household incomes. “ You know our people have not been business oriented but they are slowly changing their attitude to commerce. Very soon we shall be ok.” Lamongin said that the district was also promoting tourism in raise the much needed revenue for development. “Recently a skulls of human beings believed to be 20m years old have been discovered in Napak mountains, we have wildlife-ostriches ,the scenery, leopards among others. We are protecting all these tourists attractions and encouraging people to come and see the beauty of this place,” he says. Lamongin also said the district was rich in minerals and called upon mining companies to express interest in the virgin mineral fields in the area. The district’s development partners include, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) which has offered shs.350m to construct an office block , UNICEF helping to eradicate malaria, world Health Organisation (WHO) helping with disease surveillance, Moroto Catholic Diocese, health facility, UNFPA focusing on reproductive health, equipment Support World Food Programme supporting Maternal and child and health care and ACF providing nutrition for malnourished children. The district started its operations on July 1st 2010. Napak district lies in the north eastern Uganda and comprises of one County Bokora; Seven Sub Counties of Iriiri, Lopeei, Lokopo, Lotome, Lorengecora, Matany and Ngoleriet; Two Town Boards of Kangole and Matany; and one Town Council of Lorengecora. Currently the District Offices are in Kangole. Led by the LCV Chairman , Mr Paul Lomonyang Joseph, Napak district council is made up of 19 councillors. Profiles: Mr. Joseph Lamongin, the Chief Administrative Officer, Napak, was born in Lomorimong village 40 years ago and he has been in public service since 1998. This article was first published in Government Review a monthly magazine that focus on national development issues The writer is a development communcations ,media consultant and advocate of High Court

Saturday, May 19, 2012

KONY COMMANDER MUST FACE JUSTICE THE OTHER SIDE OF LAW BY MOSES SSERWANGA After all the mayhem visited upon the people of northern Uganda by the notorious Joseph Kony’s Lords Resistance Army (LRA)- terrorists; it’s unfortunate that there are those in the political realm who are pushing for amnesty to be granted to Maj.Gen. Caesar Acellam one of LRA’s top commanders captured by the UPDF this month. This group of Kony and Acellam’s sypathisers need to be reminded about the horrendous crimes committed by the rag- tag LRA bandits against their fellow country men. And here we are talking about war crimes and crimes against humanity . The mobile LRA gang of armed bandits was started by Kony and his henchmen in January 1987 and went on to wreck havoc in northern Uganda for over 20 years -killing and maiming thousands of innocent civilians and driving well over 20 million people out of their homes. One of their killing fields was at Purengo where they executed 30 civilians in 1989 and later massacred another 400 in Lamwo county Kitgum district. They did not even spare little girls when they raided St. Mary’s college in Aboke Apac district on October 10, 1996 and abducted 139 students taking them as sex slaves and enlisting others in the LRA army. Kony and his group of butchers have murdered an estimated 30,000 people during the execution of their two-decade, unjustified rebellion in the northern part of the country. The LRA’s horrendous attacks on innocent civilians did not spare children who were abducted and illegally conscripted in the LRA as child soldiers. At Kony and the now captured Acellam’s command, the LRA gangsters used machetes and hoes to maim their victims; chopping lips and ears of their captives. They raided schools and forced students to fight and kill their own relatives. Many of the lucky surviving victims will never recover from the trauma visited upon them by the blood-soiled hands of Kony , Acellam and those under their command. Because of their unprecedented cruelty, Kony’s LRA, deserves no sympathy in the civilised world. Its 12 years since the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (often referred to as the International Criminal Court Statute or the Rome Statute), the treaty that established the International Criminal Court (ICC) was adopted at a diplomatic conference in Rome. The statute, which came into force on July 1, 2002 and has since been ratified by 110 countries including Uganda, has drastically changed international criminal law as we have come to know it . The Rome Statute and its implementing agency the International Criminal Court, has in the short period of its existence ensured that perpetrators of horrendous crimes against humanity do not escape the rule of law. And the list of indicted suspects grows by the day, the latest being those accused of perpetuating crimes against humanity during the 2007/8 post election violence in Kenya. The ever elusive Joseph Kony and his Lords Resistance Army (LRA) deputies Vincent Otti, Okot Odhiambo and Raska Lukwiya have also been indicted but are yet to face trial at the ICC. They stand accused of 33 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed against the people of northern Uganda in the last 20 years. Acellam although not indicted by the ICC was part of the criminal acts of Kony and the LRA for all these years. Acellam can’t hide from justice under the amnesty law Kony and Acellam have for long duped the international community and the leadership in this country costing the Ugandan taxpayer billions shillings that facilitated the now infamous –two-year -Juba peace jokes! It was pretty obvious from the onset of the failed peace talks that Kony - aware of the heinous crimes he has committed against humanity- would never surrender without putting up a fight! That’s why there is no option but for the Uganda People’s Defence Force, (UPDF) supported by our regional and international allies, to continue their pursuit of LRA until Kony and all his blood-stained commanders are captured and have them answer charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity at the International Criminal Court (ICC)either here in Kampala or at the Hague. And our forces now have the capabilities to pull this one off - of course with the support of the Ugandan people. Once a person has committed war crimes as outlined in the Rome Statute, then that person should benefit from the provisions of our amnesty law. War crimes and crimes against humanity are international in nature and suspects can be picked from anywhere in the world by any spirited individual or state to arraigned them at the ICC for trial. The UPDF should use all its capabilities and bring all resources to bear in this new effort to find Kony and his commanders to have them answer for their criminal acts. The UPDF should earn the support of the people of Uganda and hope our brothers and sisters in northern Uganda never suffer again the kind of Kony and LRA’s vicious brutality. This article was first published in Government Review a Ugandan magazine The writer is a development communications, media consultant and human rights lawyer.