UGANDA: ICC to investigate allegations of army atrocities
ICC Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo
KAMPALA, 3 June 2010 (IRIN) - The Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Luis Moreno-Ocampo, said on 3 June the ICC was assessing information accusing the Ugandan military of war crimes and atrocities committed in the 20-year civil war in the north of the country.
Moreno-Ocampo told reporters during the ongoing ICC review conference in the Ugandan capital that survivors of the war, NGOs and opposition political parties had all accused the country’s army, the Uganda People’s Defense Forces (UPDF), of committing atrocities while battling the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebels.
“There are complaints [against the UPDF] and we are analyzing them. There are cases of torture and mass displacement though some are outside our mandate that started in 2002. Any citizen of Uganda could send communication to my office and I will treat them properly according to judicial standards,” he said.
He said, however, the gravest cases documented under the mandate period of the court were committed by the LRA, which killed thousands of people in a war that displaced almost two million people and left thousands maimed.
Earlier, Olara Otunnu, leader of the opposition Uganda People’s Congress (UPC) party, told reporters shortly after meeting Moreno-Ocampo that the ICC should investigate and indict President Yoweri Museveni.
“I have provided Moreno-Ocampo with information. He has requested information. We are going to furnish him with more information regarding genocide, crimes against humanity,” he said, adding that he had “tonnes and tonnes” of evidence against the Ugandan military.
Fred Ruhindi, Uganda’s Minister of State for Justice and Constitutional Affairs and deputy Attorney-General, faulted Otunnu’s approach, saying the opposition politician should instead have used “proper procedures” to “advance his interests”.
This is not the first time Otunnu has accused Museveni. Last time, the president said he was ready to appear before the ICC to answer any charges brought against him.
The leader of the LRA, Joseph Kony, and four of his commanders were indicted by the ICC for war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in northern Uganda since 2002 when the court came into being, but some voices thought that indicting the LRA officials and not the military exposed the double standards of The Hague-based court.