Posts Tagged ‘Lords Resistance Army’

Zentralafrikanische Republik: Vermutlich zu wenig Öl…

Donnerstag, Mai 5th, 2011

“NEW REPORT: LRA AND OTHER ARMED GROUPS COMMITTING GRAVE VIOLATIONS AGAINST CHILDREN IN CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC

Watchlist on Children and Armed Conflict, IDMC Demand UN Security Council, Government of CAR, Donors Take Action

May 4, New York City – Children in the Central African Republic (CAR) are being abducted, recruited into armed groups and denied access to humanitarian assistance, according to a report released today by the Watchlist on Children and Armed Conflict (Watchlist) and the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC). These violations, as well as attacks against schools and hospitals, have continued despite the fact that the UN Security Council identified them among the forbidden ‘six grave violations’ committed against children during times of conflict. These six grave violations are the basis of the Council’s protection of children during war.

The report, An Uncertain Future? Children and Armed Conflict in the Central African Republic, finds that the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) is still present and active in CAR, where it is abducting children. Abducted children are raped, used as sex slaves and forced to attack villages and kill others, including other children.

In the report, Watchlist and IDMC outline detailed policy recommendations and demand that the government of CAR, the UN Security Council and donors including the US and the EU, take specific actions to help children affected by armed conflict in CAR.

“Children are being abused and their rights are being ignored by the LRA, other rebel groups, and even by the government of CAR. The international humanitarian community at large is also failing them in their inability to monitor and address the situation properly,” says Eva Smets, Director of Watchlist. “We must protect and provide adequate support for these children.”

In January 2011, Watchlist and IDMC conducted a field mission during which a researcher held one-on-one interviews with former child soldiers, internally displaced children and their families, community leaders and teachers, security forces, and members of village self-defense militias.

“This report outlines the situation in CAR from the victims’ perspective,” says Laura Perez, Country Analyst for IDMC and researcher for the report. “We learned directly from the children and their families what is actually happening and how it’s affecting them.”

Specifically, Watchlist and IDMC found the following:
• Abduction: Not only is the LRA abducting children, using them as slaves and
soldiers, but those children who manage to escape from the LRA experience great difficulties returning to their families. They rarely receive much-needed assistance, such as psychosocial care, to heal from these traumatic events. These children also suffer an arduous journey home that often takes them as long as the time they actually spent in captivity.

• Recruitment: The absence of a functioning army has forced local communities to form self-defense militias to protect themselves from criminal gangs and foreign armed groups like the LRA. These self-defense militias admit to recruiting children as young as 12. The rebel group the Convention of Patriots for Justice and Peace (CPJP) is also recruiting children.

In addition, there are significant problems in the long-term reintegration of the children recently released by the Popular Army for the Restoration of Democracy (APRD). Without support programs allowing them to earn a living, these children are at risk of returning to armed groups.

• Denial of Humanitarian Access: Between restrictions placed on certain areas by the government of CAR, and the activities of the rebel group CPJP and the LRA, humanitarian assistance organizations and UN agencies are unable to access two conflict areas in the country. This means that no assessment of needs is being made and no assistance provided to the children living in these areas.

Smets says that it is a crucial time to work to remedy the situation. “The recent re- election of President Bozizé offers a unique opportunity for the children of CAR to reclaim their future,” says Smets. “If President Bozizé and his government are able to consolidate the peace process and mark a real end to the armed conflict in CAR, there is real potential for socio-economic development and stability. But, in order for this to happen, the international community must respond now and commit the necessary resources to help children affected by armed conflict in CAR.”

An Uncertain Future? lists specific policy recommendations for improving the protection of children in CAR and for strengthening the humanitarian response to their needs, including demanding that:

• The government of CAR:
o Instruct self-defense militias to leave their children at home;
o Train, equip and deploy troops to communities that have had to rely on self-defense militias to protect themselves;
o Negotiate a cease-fire agreement with the rebel group CPJP in order to restore humanitarian access to displaced communities living in zones controlled by the rebel group

• The UN Security Council:
o Encourage the government of CAR to do all of the above; and
o Request that the UN Country Team in CAR negotiate an action plan with CPJP to release all children from its ranks.

• The US government and the European Union:
o Urgently release funds to assist children formerly abducted by the LRA who are now in need of psychosocial assistance.

“What we want are more programs in CAR. We want people to respond,” says Perez. “The reason why CAR doesn’t have the same degree of humanitarian assistance as DRC is because CAR doesn’t get the same international attention. We want to raise the profile of the situation in CAR and the horrific conditions children face there.

For a full list of findings and recommendations, please request an embargoed version of the report.

# # #

Watchlist on Children and Armed Conflict, established in 2001, is an international network of non-governmental organizations striving to end violations against children in armed conflicts and to guarantee their rights. As a global network, Watchlist builds partnerships among local, national and international NGOs, enhancing mutual capacities and strengths. Working together, we strategically collect and disseminate information on violations against children in conflicts to influence key decision-makers to create and implement programs and policies that effectively protect children.

The Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) (www.internal-displacement.org) was established by the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) in 1998, upon the request of the United Nations. It is a leading source of information and analysis on internal displacement caused by conflict and violence worldwide.”

 

(Quelle: The Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre.)

Uganda: US-Einmischung könnte Gewalt eskalieren lassen

Samstag, Juli 24th, 2010

“Ugandans Edgy Over US Move Against LRA

Fears that America may inflame violence as it seeks to put an end to rebel group

By Moses Odokonyero


Photo: UN Photo/Tim McKulka
Civilians displaced by recent LRA attacks in southern Sudan, which neighbours Uganda.

As Washington prepares to unveil a strategy aimed at neutralising the Lord’s Resistance Army, LRA, many in northern Uganda are mindful of how past attempts to deal a knock-out blow to the rebel movement have succeeded only in increasing instability in the region.

While welcoming greater support in apprehending Joseph Kony, the  leader of the LRA, and his henchmen, they are concerned about the consequences of a military campaign against the rebels who’ve terrorised civilians across eastern and central Africa over the past three decades.

Although Washington’s plans have yet to be announced, one of the principal fears in northern Uganda is that, rather than defeat the LRA, the United States might simply succeed in pushing them further afield, to commit atrocities elsewhere, or even prompting their return to Uganda.

Previous international initiatives have not been immediately successful. Five years after the International Criminal Court, ICC, issued arrest warrants for senior LRA commanders, none have been caught and two have died while on the run.

And while the rebel movement has now been forced out of northern Uganda, humanitarian groups report that it continues to rape, maim and kill in parts of the Democratic Republic of Congo, DRC, Central African Republic, CAR, and south-west Sudan.

In May, the US president Barack Obama signed a bill requiring policymakers to come up with a strategy for dealing with the LRA by the end of November.

Two weeks later, the Acholi Religious Leaders Peace Initiative, an influential group that has been at the forefront of a peaceful resolution of the conflict in northern Uganda, wrote an open letter to the US president, urging caution.

‘Military action has time and time again not only failed to end the conflict but caused it to spread into regions once immune to LRA violence resulting in further suffering of civilians,’ the letter read.

It continued by urging Obama to explore ‘non-violent actions’ that would help to resolve the violence afflicting countries in the region.

The Acholi religious leaders claim that military efforts by the Ugandan government have in the past failed to comprehensively defeat the LRA.

In fact, in many instances, they have led to retaliatory attacks by the LRA on civilian populations in not only Uganda but now also Sudan, the DRC and CAR.

In 2001, the Ugandan army launched an operation to flush the LRA out of its hideouts in southern Sudan. The rebels retaliated by sneaking back into northern Uganda and carrying out numerous atrocities.

In December 2008, the Ugandan army, along with its regional allies, struck LRA hideouts in Garamba in eastern Congo. Again, the LRA retaliated by killing civilians, this time in the DRC and CAR.

‘If [the US] wants to fight Kony then this is bad because it will spoil our peace,’ said Margaret Ajok, 28, a resident of Rackoko village in Pader district, a view shared by many local people.

Elizabeth Acan, a 53-year-old widow from Paicho in Gulu, once at the epicentre of the conflict, said, ‘Although I want Kony tried by the ICC for the killings that he is [responsible for], I don’t support anything that proposes war to solve a problem because war spoils our future and the future of our children.’

Some, however, say the region has little to fear from an American intervention.

‘The [US initiative] will help consolidate the existing peace and reconstruction efforts taking place in northern Uganda,’ said Milton Odongo, deputy resident district commissioner of Gulu. ‘It will also help the government of Uganda to hunt for the LRA terrorists.’

Odongo does not think that there is any danger that military action against the LRA will bring a resumption of hostilities. ‘The peace in northern Uganda is irreversible,’ he said.

At Unyama Trading Centre, not far from Gulu, Nelson Labeja, 65, summed up the anger many people feel towards the LRA.

‘If possible, I want Kony shot dead because you cannot arrest an armed man like him,’ he said.

THE SHAPE OF US STRATEGY

At the moment, it remains unclear what the US strategy for apprehending LRA commanders will look like. The bill suggests that it will have two components – one to respond to humanitarian needs and the other to provide military, economic and intelligence support for disarming the LRA.

Ledio Cakaj, a field researcher in Uganda for the Enough Project, which campaigns against human rights abuses, thinks that the greatest contribution the US will be able to make will be in terms of better equipment and intelligence.

‘In a perfect world, if we really wanted to see the end of the LRA immediately, then we should send specially-trained elite forces, be they American, British or any other western force to finish the job,’ said Cakaj. ‘Practically speaking, given how the US army is stretched in Afghanistan and Iraq, US soldiers on the ground are not going to be an option.’

There have been numerous attempts to apprehend LRA commanders, but, according to Cakaj, these have been hampered by a lack of resources, particularly helicopters.

Most recently, at the start of July, the Ugandan army reportedly shot and killed one of Kony’s bodyguards in Djemah, a town in CAR. Kony, however, managed to escape.

Simon Oyet, a member of parliament for Nwoya County in Amuru district, welcomes US support for apprehending members of the LRA, but thinks that it should go beyond just providing equipment and money to the Ugandan military.

‘Uganda does not have the capacity to arrest Kony,’ he said. ‘This can only happen with US support to reinforce the Ugandan army militarily by having men on the ground. If [this doesn’t happen] the arrest of Kony will remain a dream. I also have worries that, if the Americans give money to the Ugandan army, it will be grossly abused and we will have the same old story.’

But he does think that the US initiative sends out a positive message.

‘The [US] bill will restore confidence in people of northern Uganda that the LRA conflict will one day come to an end,’ he said. ‘And, to the LRA, the bill has sent out the message that they are now a world problem being confronted globally.’

For their part, the Ugandan government welcomes US support.

‘The critical economic assistance that will come with it will improve the life of the common man in northern Uganda, which is not in a conflict situation anymore,’ said Ugandan army spokesman Felix Kulayigye. ‘US support will also come with technological assistance for Uganda in the fight against the LRA. Everything has an end. Kony will also have his end.’

ICC COOPERATION

Out of 13 arrest warrants that have been issued by the ICC, only four have so far been executed.

As a judicial body, the ICC does not have a way of enforcing indictments itself, and therefore has to rely on the cooperation of countries – not only member states, but increasingly those that remain outside the signatories to the international court.

Some of the most influential countries in the world have still not signed up to the Rome Statute. These include the US, Russia, China and India.

During the recent ICC review conference in Kampala, ICC president Sang-Hyun Song described the cooperation, both of member states and of non-member states, as ‘the weakest link in the Rome Statute system’.

‘Four of 13 arrest warrants have been executed… What makes cooperation the weak link in this system is that the ICC lacks the means to enforce it,’ said Song.

ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo says that the initiative taken by Washington shows how those countries, which for the time being remain outside the ICC, can nonetheless contribute towards the successful functioning of the court.

‘Joseph Kony is still committing crimes and he must be arrested,’ he told IWPR. ‘We appreciate the US and other countries in supporting the territorial states to bring about his capture. This is of the utmost importance. Humanity has to help the victims by stopping these crimes.’

Moreno-Ocampo added that there have been positive signs that non-member state parties are increasingly willing to cooperate with the court.

He highlighted the example of Russia, which he claims has been freely providing ‘substantial information’ to the ICC’s investigation team about what happened in the conflict in Georgia in August 2008.

One ICC source also suggested that US cooperation will be crucial for the probe into violence in Kenya, since many of those likely to be indicted have links to the US.

‘We’re starting to see great cooperation from state and non-state parties alike, and this is a very positive development,’ said Moreno-Ocampo.

Moses Odokonyero is an IWPR-trained reporter. Blake Evans-Pritchard, IWPR Africa Editor, contributed to this report.

This article is part of a series of articles produced by IWPR-trained reporters to coincide with the ICC review conference, held in Kampala between May 31 and June 11. This series aims to go beyond the negotiations that took place in Kampala, assessing what the issues raised during the conference mean to those communities that the ICC is supposed to serve.

 

(Quelle: IWPR.)

Somalia: Hintergründe eines komplizierten Konflikts

Samstag, Juli 24th, 2010

Somalia: Al-Shabab, extremism and US allies

By Yohannes Woldemariam



cc S W

The rise of Al-Shabab in Somalia must be seen in the context of decades of mismanagement, dictatorship and abuse, writes Yohannes Woldemariam. Following Ethiopia’s US-backed intervention in 2006, the ascendancy of Somalia’s moderate UIC (Union of Islamic Courts) was blocked and some 300,000 people were displaced, in the wake of which ‘the Al-Shabab extremists triumphed as a hegemonic force’ from within the UIC. And as the dust settles on last week’s Kampala bombing, Woldemariam contends, the governments of US allies Ethiopia and Uganda are once again seeking to capitalise on the tragedy for their own ends, ‘with Obama playing right into it’.

The emergence of Al-Shabab in Somalia is not an accident. It stems from many decades of mismanagement, dictatorship, regional and international abuse. Superficially, one expects Somalia to be a unified entity because all Somalis speak a common language and are not plagued by ethnic differences as in many parts of the post-colonial world. Yet Somalia was always beset by deep clan cleavages even as Somali elites fantasised about the notion of a ‘Greater Somalia’ and made it their mission to unite all Somali-speaking peoples. This included Somalis in neighbouring states: the Ogaden region in Ethiopia, the Issas in Djibouti and the Somalis who inhabit the area known as the Northern Frontier District of Kenya. The Horn of Africa was of course faced with the same arbitrariness of borders inherited from colonial rule, where there were cultural links with people across borders.



Notion of 'Greater Somalia' marked in yellow on map

But the project of an ethnically homogenous state by embracing neighbouring Somali minorities was a non-starter and contrary to the African charter of respecting colonial boundaries. Hence, Somali irredentism pitted it against Kenya and Ethiopia, worsening in particular its historic enmity with Ethiopia. The tension between the two countries provided one of the openings for the Soviet Union and the United States to use these nations as proxies in the geopolitical games of the Cold War. The Horn of Africa of which Somalia is a part became much like Afghanistan, Vietnam and other hot spots of that era.

Ethiopia and Somalia waged two major wars, including one that involved Cuban troops in 1977–78. A combined force of Ethiopians, 15,000 Cubans, 1,500 Soviet advisors and weaponry broke the back of the Somali army. This defeat was the beginning of the end of a functioning Somali state. It was followed by a protracted civil war in the 1980s, culminating in the disintegration of the country. Clumsy US and UN involvement in the 1990s made an already bad situation worse. Clan-based warlordism replaced the centralised dictatorship of Mohammed Said Barre, who ruled Somalia from 1969 to 1991. After the fall of Barre, Somaliland and Puntland became two separate, relatively stable but unrecognised entities. In fact, in late June 2010, Somaliland held the only election in the region which met international standards. Opposition candidate Ahmed M. Maha Silanyo won the election, defeating incumbent President Dahir Riyale Kahin. In contrast, anarchy had reigned in southern Somalia and the Mogadishu area for at least the last two decades.

For the most part, the US disengaged after the death of 18 of its marines and the downing of two Black Hawk helicopters in 1993. The gruesome scene in October 1993 – with pictures of a dead American soldier being dragged through the streets of Mogadishu and dubbed the ‘CNN effect’ – is a fixture in the memory of many Americans. It influenced the Clinton administration’s decision to withdraw US troops from the country. Somalia became of renewed interest only after 9/11 out of concern that it would be a breeding ground for global jihad and a hide out for Al-Qaida elements.

There were 14 unsuccessful top-down attempts for a centralised government in Somalia between 1991 and 2010. The current Transitional Federal Government (TFG) led by Sharif Sheikh Ahmed is the latest mutation of these trials. Most Somalis view Sharif Ahmed as an Ethiopian puppet, but Hillary Clinton had called him the ‘best hope’ for his country. He barely controls two blocks in Mogadishu and only because of the protection of approximately 3,000 Ugandan and 2,000 Burundian troops representing the ill-conceived AU Mission In Somalia (AMISOM). The Ugandan, Burundian and Ethiopian intervention is deeply resented by Somalis of various political persuasions. The justification for their presence is ostensibly to keep peace, but there is no peace to keep in Somalia. Uganda and Ethiopia really need peace within their own borders before pretending to bring peace to other lands. Among several insurgencies within Ethiopia is the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF), which is waging a perennial struggle for self-determination for the four million or so ethnic Somalis. It has claimed thousands of lives and is being called ‘the other Darfur’ by some observers. Since the 1980s, Uganda’s northern region has also been ravaged by a murderous group known as the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA).

The primary reason for Ethiopian intervention is its vested interest in a weak and disintegrated Somalia. It also benefits from American financial, military and political support by positioning itself as an ally in the ‘war on terror’. Ethiopia receives the largest amount of American aid of any country in sub-Saharan Africa. Similarly, Uganda and Burundi are intervening to garner support from the United States when they don’t even share a common border with Somalia.

In return, the US keeps mum when these leaders rig elections or change constitutional clauses to enable them to extend presidential terms. It is a Machiavellian game all around.

If one were genuine about peace, Ethiopia would be among the last countries in the world to be encouraged to send troops to Somalia. Yet in 2006, it intervened in Somalia with American support and pre-empted the ascendancy of the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC), who were relatively moderate Muslims and had managed to establish a modicum of order for the very first time in 15 years. From the ranks of UIC, the Al-Shabab extremists triumphed as a hegemonic force. Ethiopia officially withdrew in 2009, but only after experiencing a quagmire which plunged Somalia into deeper chaos, displacing 300,000 Somalis and causing disarray for a grassroots movement that had seemed promising before it was nipped by Ethiopian intervention. And this official withdrawal notwithstanding, Ethiopian troops still make periodic incursions into Somalia at will.

Given the predatory nature of the governments of Burundi, Ethiopia and Uganda – which are essentially military dictatorships or de facto one-party control – little faith can be placed in them for enhancing regional stability in the Horn region. Current Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki is also believed to have stolen the presidential election from Raila Odinga (who happens to hail from the same ethnic group as Barack Obama's father), who is now prime minister in a shaky power-sharing government. Yet the country is an ally in security matters in the region and therefore immune from any serious US scrutiny.

In 2006, the Bush administration provided intelligence to Ethiopia in support of the invasion. It also used military facilities in Djibouti, Ethiopia and Kenya to launch air raids and missile strikes against Al-Qaida suspects at several sites in Somalia in 2007 and 2008. The air attacks killed several dozen Somali civilians and injured hundreds more, and they made US backing for the invasion highly visible. These periodic airstrikes are continuing under the Obama administration. The killing of Somali civilians only serves to drive Somalis into desperation and extremism. AMISOM is not any better. There are credible reports that it is responsible for civilian deaths and other excesses.

In the aftermath of the Kampala bombings, Obama said that Al-Qaida is racist and doesn’t care about African lives. No sane person would dispute that. However, the real question is whether Obama cares about African lives. If he truly does, why would he meddle and prop up dictators like Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia and Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, dictators who wilfully sacrifice their soldiers and the lives of innocents for some foreign exchange dollars? Not surprisingly, both Zenawi and Museveni are already positioning themselves to argue for expanded intervention and to milk the Kampala tragedy, with Obama playing right into it. Ironically, Al-Shabab will also welcome the escalation and regionalisation of the conflict in the hope of bolstering its waning domestic support base as ordinary Somalis become weary of the heavy-handed repression by the movement.

Relying on Ethiopia, Uganda and Burundi for keeping peace in Somalia is like sending Indian soldiers to occupy and pacify the Pakistani tribal areas. It is an oxymoron. It undermines the moderates and helps the extremists. The willingness of the United States to endorse interventions is rarely matched by a commitment to a comprehensive effort of securing peace. With the quagmire in Afghanistan and Iraq, there is hardly any political will in the US to effectively deal with the complexities of the issues in Somalia. Somalia does not need intervention and further militarisation by self-serving neighbours. A possible starting point for rebuilding Somalia could be to use the money that is being wasted on AMISOM to assist the Somali people and the nascent democratic experiment in Somaliland in light of the severe democratic drought in the region.

BROUGHT TO YOU BY PAMBAZUKA NEWS

* Please send comments to editor@pambazuka.org or comment online at Pambazuka News.

 

(Quelle: Pambazuka News.)

Uganda: Erstmalig Kriegsverbrechen vor Gericht

Samstag, Juli 24th, 2010

“Uganda Set for First War Crimes Trial

Ex-LRA commander to be tried in Kampala court for kidnap and intent to murder, in precedent-setting case.

By Bill Oketch

Uganda’s first ever war crimes trial could start before the end of the year, IWPR understands, despite uncertainty over new legislation intended to make such prosecutions possible.

The country’s director of public prosecutions, Richard Butera told IWPR that his department is preparing to refer the case of Thomas Kwoyelo – a  former Lord’s Resistence Army, LRA, commander, presently in custody in Gulu – to the newly-established war crimes division of the High Court.

If Kwoyelo’s trial goes ahead, it will represent the first time that an ICC situation country has been in a position to try its own war criminals.

Kwoyelo has been in a Gulu jail since he was captured in March 2009, charged with 12 counts of kidnap with intent to murder. But his case has been unable to proceed to trial because the regional court has no jurisdiction over capital offences.

Kwoyelo has not even been assigned a lawyer yet, although Butera says that this will change as soon as his trial begins at the war crimes court.

Although Butera declined to give a precise indication of when the referral might take place, a source close to him suggested the trial could start before the end of the year.

Since the ICC does not have the resources to try all suspected war criminals, its mandate is to prosecute only those deemed most responsible for atrocities, with the remainder being tried by national courts, provided that the local judiciary is capable of doing this.

The ICC has so far indicted five members of the LRA for war crimes – none of whom have so far been apprehended – and is unlikely to open any more cases in the country.

The war crimes division of the High Court got a green-light to start operating just ahead of the recent ICC review conference n Kampala, when Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni announced that he had put his signature to the controversial ICC bill – which enables the Ugandan judiciary to try war crimes – adopted by parliament on March 10.

Mirjam Blaak, Uganda’s ambassador to the ICC, said that she was very happy that Museveni had at last signed the bill, which has been in the pipeline for the past six years.

‘It was important to have the bill signed before the review conference took place,’ she said. ‘They wouldn’t have cancelled the review conference if it hadn’t been, but it was an understanding that we would.’

However, there has been much confusion over the ICC bill, with many people, even those close to the government, being uncertain about whether the president had actually signed it.

Lindah Nabusay, Museveni’s deputy spokeswoman, said that she was not aware that the president had put his pen to the legislation.

Nearly two months after being reportedly signed by Museveni, few people have been able to get hold of a copy of the ICC bill.

David Donat Cattin, director of the international law and human rights programme at Parliamentarians for Global Action, has been unable to obtain a copy of the legislation, despite his best efforts.

‘It is a bit surprising that it is not yet available, especially because it was adopted unanimously in parliament,’ he said.

Blaak explained the delay by claiming that the government needed time to incorporate last-minute changes that were made, and that it would be published ‘very soon’.

But the apparent secrecy surrounding the ICC bill gives some indication of how difficult it has been to push the new legislation through parliament.

The bill was first tabled as far back as 2004, but Blaak says that it was pushed to one side while peace talks between the LRA and the government were taking place.

When it was finally presented to parliament in 2006, two elements of the new law proved particularly divisive: an apparent reference to the death penalty, prohibited by the ICC, and an explicit clause protecting a serving president from prosecution.

‘The Ugandan constitution also gives wide immunity to a serving president, but it would have been disgraceful to have put this in black and white within the ICC bill,’ said Cattin. ‘It would have sent out quite the wrong message to the international community and we couldn’t have lived with that.’

Blaak says that, in the latest version signed by the president, both elements have been dropped.

Akiki Keeza, head of the new war crimes division of the High Court, says that now that the ICC bill has been signed, the Hague-based court should get behind Uganda’s efforts to try war criminals.

‘It is the duty of [ICC] member states to put in place mechanisms to try people who have commited attrocities,’ said Keeza. ‘Before the [ICC review] conference, the president of the ICC visited us here and did not express any objections to what we are doing. The ICC have a responsibility to support us.’

For those in northern Uganda, who have suffered greatly during the years of the LRA insurgency, the question of whether the war crimes division of the High Court is the best avenue for justice remains open.

Emmanuel Mwaka Lutukumoi, spokesman for the opposition Democratic Party, says rather than trying war crimes suspects in Kampala, traditional justice mechanisms, such as mato oput, should be employed.

This system has been used by Acholi clans for generations to settle disputes, and involves victims sharing a bitter drink made from the mato oput tree in a spirit of reconcilliation and forgiveness.

Another point of contention is the question of whether the government will be able to provide reparations for the victims of those tried by the Ugandan justice system.

The ICC’s Trust Fund for Victims can issue compensation in connection with trials that are currently ongoing, but no similar provisions have been made under the ICC bill.

Milly Arao is a disabled woman in Lira district, who has sought compensation for injuries she sustained in an LRA raid on the Barlonyo internally displaced people’s camp in the north of the country. She says that the rebels massacred more than 300 civillians, including ten of her relatives.

‘We are always marginalised and no one helps us. We are looked at as a people that are useless,’ she said.

According to recent data from the International Bar Association, less than a third of the 111 signatories to the Rome Statute have satisfactorily adopted ICC implementing legislation.

A further 20 per cent of member states have partially-adopted ICC laws, while 50 per cent have not adopted any implementing legislation at all.

Bill Oketch is an IWPR-trained reporter. Blake Evans-Pritchard, IWPR Africa Editor, contributed to this report.

This article is part of a series of articles produced by IWPR-trained reporters to coincide with the ICC review conference, held in Kampala between May 31 and June 11. This series aims to go beyond the negotiations that took place in Kampala, assessing what the issues raised during the conference mean to those communities that the ICC is supposed to serve.

 

(Quelle: IWPR.)

Afrika: Mehr Waffen, weniger zivile Hilfe

Dienstag, Juli 13th, 2010

“Africa: No Butter, But Lots of Guns

By Conn Hallinan

The developed world has a message for Africa: ‘Sorry, but we are reneging on our aid pledges made at the G8 summit at Gleneagles, Scotland back in 2005, but we do have something for you—lots and lots of expensive things that go ‘bang’ and kill people.’

And that was indeed the message that came out of the G8-G20 meetings in Canada last month. The promise to add an extra $25 billion to a $50 billion aid package for the continent went a glimmering. Instead, the G8 will cut the $25 billion to $11 billion and the $50 billion to $38 billion. And don’t hold your breath that Africa will get even that much.

The G8 consists of Britain, the U.S., Germany, France, Italy, Japan, France, and Russia, although Moscow is not part of the aid pledge.

Canada’s Muskoka summit hailed ‘significant progress toward the millennium development goals’—the United Nations’ target of reducing poverty by 2015—but when it came time to ante up, everyone but the United Kingdom bailed. The Gleneagles pledge was to direct 0.51 percent of the G8’s gross national income to aid programs by 2010. The UK came up to 0.56 percent, but the U.S. is at 0.2, Italy at 0.16, Canada at 0.3, Germany at 0.35, and France at 0.47. Rumor has it that France and Italy led the charge to water down the 2005 goals.

The shortfall, says Oxfam spokesman Mark Fried, is not just a matter of ‘numbers.’ The aid figures ‘represent vital medicines, kids in school, help for women living in poverty and food for the hungry.’

AIDS activists are particularly incensed. ‘I see no point in beating around the bush,’ said AIDS-Free World spokesman Stephen Lewis at a Toronto press conference. He charged that Obama Administration’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief ‘is being flat-lined for at least the next two years.’ Lewis said AIDS groups were treating five million patients, but that another nine million needed to be in programs. ‘There are AIDS projects, run by other NGOs [non-governmental organizations], where new patients cannot be enrolled unless someone dies.’ 

But if the  poor, sick, and hungry are going begging, not so Africa’s militaries.

According to Daniel Volman, director of the African Security Research Project, the White House is following the same policies as the Bush Administration vis-à-vis Africa. ‘Indeed, the Obama Administration is seeking to expand U.S. military activities on the continent even further,’ says Volman.

In its 2011 budget, the White House asked for over $80 million in military programs for Africa, while freezing or reducing aid packages aimed at civilians.

The major vehicle for this is the U.S.’s African Command (AFRICOM) founded in 2008. Through the Trans-Saharan Counter-Terrorism Initiative, AFRICOM is training troops from Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Mauritania, Mali, Niger, Senegal and Chad. The supposed target of all this is the group al-Qaeda in the Islamic Meghreb (AQIM), but while AQIM is certainly troublesome—it sets off bombs and kidnaps people— it is small, scattered, and doesn’t pose a serious threat to any of the countries involved.

The worry is that the various militaries being trained by AFRICOM could end up being used against internal dissidents. Tuaregs, for instance, are engaged in a long-running, low-level insurgency against the Mali government, which is backing a French plan to mine uranium in the Sahara. Might Morocco use the training to attack the Polisario Front in the disputed Western Sahara? Mauritanians complain that the ‘terrorist’ label has been used to jail political opponents of the government.

In testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Assistant Secretary of State Johnnie Carson said the U.S. was seeking to bolster Nigeria’s ‘ability to combat violent extremism within its borders.’ That might put AFRICOM in the middle of a civil war between ruling elites in Lagos and their transnational oil company allies, and the Movement for the Emancipation of the Delta, which is demanding an end to massive pollution and a fair cut of oil revenues. 

The National Energy Policy Development Groups estimates that by 2015 as much as 25 percent of U.S. oil imports will come from Africa.

So far, AFRICOM’s track record has been one disaster after another. It supported Ethiopia’s intervention in the Somalia civil war, and helped to overthrow the moderate Islamic Courts Union. It is now fighting a desperate rear-guard action against a far more extremist grouping, the al-Shabaab. AFRICOM also helped coordinate a Ugandan Army attack on the Lord’s Resistance Army in the Democratic Republic of the Congo—Operation Lightning Thunder— that ended up killing thousands of civilians. 

The U.S. has been careful to keep a low profile in all this. ‘We don’t want to see our guys going in and getting whacked,’ Volman quotes one U.S. AFRICOM officer. ‘We want Africans to go in.’

And presumably get ‘whacked.’

AFRICOM’s Operation Flintlock 2010, which ran from May 3-22, was based in Burkina Faso. Besides the militaries of 10 African nations, it included 600 U.S. Special Forces and elite units from France, the Netherlands, and Spain. Yes, there are other arms pushers out there, and the list reads like an economic who’s who: France, the United Kingdom, China, Russia, Sweden, and Israel. Some 70 percent of the world’s arms trade is aimed at developing countries.

So, is AFRICOM about fighting terrorism, or oil, gas and uranium? Nicole Lee, the executive director of Trans Africa, the leading African American organization focusing on Africa has no doubts: ‘This [AFRICOM] is nothing short of a sovereignty and resource grab.’

And who actually benefits from this militarization of the continent? As Nigerian journalist Dulue Mbachu warns, ‘Increased U.S. military presence in Africa may simply serve to protect unpopular regimes that are friendly to its interests, as was the case during the Cold War, while Africa slips further into poverty.’”

 

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UN: Umstrittener Internationaler Strafgerichtshof

Donnerstag, Juni 10th, 2010

“ANALYSIS: Mixed report card for ICC

KAMPALA, 10 June 2010 (IRIN) – The International Criminal Court (ICC) is beginning to deliver justice to survivors of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, but the world has yet to fully commit to ending impunity for the gravest crimes, according to participants at a conference reviewing the court’s legal foundation.

“The Rome Statute has been described as the greatest advance in international law since the UN Charter,” Oby Nwankwo, executive director of Nigeria’s Civil Resource Development and Documentation Centre, said in Uganda, where the 31 May-11 June conference is taking place. “While the ICC has its shortcomings, it provides a backstop to impunity.”

Established by the Statute on 1 July 2002, the ICC now has 111 state parties, 18 judges, and field offices in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Uganda, Central African Republic (CAR) and Chad. It is conducting investigations in the DRC, Uganda, CAR, Kenya and Sudan, and has issued 13 arrest warrants for eight cases.

But critics say the Court has taken too long to conclude cases and is too focused on African countries. Describing the ICC as “European-driven, African-focused and irretrievably flawed”, David Hoile of the African Research Centre said its “claims to international jurisdiction and judicial independence are institutionally flawed and the Court’s approach has been marred by blatant double standards and serious judicial irregularities”.

The Pretoria-based Institute for Security Studies cited the uneven and imbalanced landscape of global politics as a factor. “For Africa, a key concern is the relationship between the UN Security Council and the ICC, specifically the Council’s powers of referral and deferral,” a summary of an ISS symposium on “The ICC that Africa wants” stated.

“The skewed international power of the UNSC creates an environment in which it is more likely that action will be taken against accused from weaker states,” it added.

An analyst, who requested anonymity, said this view had been amplified by the 2008 high-profile indictment of Sudanese President Omar el-Bashir. “That indictment has driven a wedge between supporters and opponents of the Court,” she told IRIN. “It has led to all manner of accusations, clouded the ICC’s record and continues to elicit controversy.”

But asked how he could effect an arrest against Bashir, Prosecutor Louis Moreno Ocampo was bullish. “Arresting Bashir is a matter of time; the Court is permanent, so it can wait,” he told reporters. “The current challenges faced by the Rome Statute are not a product of failure, they are a product of success,” he said. “The Court is today fully operational, executing its judicial mandate and far exceeding expectations.”

Asked if he had a plan B, Ocampo said: “The states decide the law, I only apply it.”

His upbeat assessment was shared by ICC President Judge Sang-Hyun Song. “The system of international justice has developed faster than expected,” he said. “The threat of prosecution at the ICC has already deterred some criminals… the [Kampala] conference will review ways to increase domestic capacity.”

At the conference, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was asked if the ICC was toothless. He responded: “We are witnessing the birth of a new age of accountability. We hope to take stock of the Court’s progress and strengthen it for the future.”

He hailed the presence in Kampala of the US, which was participating as a non-state party for the first time. “I understand the US is very seriously reviewing its decisions,” he added.

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Kofi Annan, the former UN Secretary-General, defended the Court. “When I meet Africans from all walks of life, they demand justice: from their own courts if possible, from international courts if no credible alternative exists,” he said. “The ICC does not supplant the authority of national courts. Rather, it is a court of last resort, governed by the principle of complementarity.”

Taking stock

The Kampala conference is characterised by lively debates on the impact of the Rome Statute on survivors and affected communities; complementarity, cooperation, peace and justice; and the crime of aggression (although there is no agreement on its definition).

Various speakers called for more support for the Court. “Words are cheap, it is in providing the court with support that the rubber meets the road,” Richard Dicker, international justice director at Human Rights Watch, said. “State parties need to do a great deal better… unless governments actually make arrests, the ICC cannot deliver justice to victims of mass atrocities.”

Nobel Laureate Wangari Maathai struck a more cautious tone. “At community level, there are a lot of expectations about the ICC, but it can only do so much,” she said.

Civil society organizations called on states that have signed the Rome Statute to enact comprehensive implementing legislation. Only five African countries have done so: Burkina Faso, CAR, Kenya, Senegal and South Africa. “Such legislation makes genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity crimes under domestic law and provides cooperation with the ICC,” they said in a statement.

Compensation calls

They also called for the promotion of victims’ rights, including compensation. “Hundreds of victims are already participating in situations and cases before the ICC… [but] lack of execution of arrest warrants, lengthy proceedings and limited cases are only a few of the areas where the victims have expressed disappointment and frustration with the ICC,” they noted. 

Survivors attending the meeting urged the Court to ensure adequate compensation. “When I came back, I could not find my parents and I am told they were all killed during the war,” said David Etilu, 16, who was abducted at nine by the Ugandan Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and taken to Garamba, northeastern DRC.

“I am alone, without a sister or brother. I have nowhere to stay. My expectation of this conference is improved life, where I will get what I need in life,” he told IRIN at the conference. “ICC and the government should find the means to educate me, how I can be accommodated and other things that a human being requires in life. Those are all that I need.”

But Kristin Kalla, acting executive director of the Trust Fund for Victims, said resources were limited. The Fund has taken up projects in northern Uganda and the DRC worth four million Euros (US$4.8 million).

“Funding is still limited to take up every person [who] qualifies and we are appealing to member states and other donors and the private sector to come in and help because this is the moment to have something to show to the victims,” she said.

Ocampo echoed calls for compensation. “The victims do not have to wait for convictions to be assisted. This is something we are discussing – how to continue the process and assist victims at the same time.”

Ahead of the opening ceremony, survivors of the LRA conflict in northern Uganda said the court was selective in the application of justice. The survivors, some disabled, others former displaced persons and abductees, child mothers and those who lost relatives, met ICC President Song in Gulu district on 29 May. They called on the ICC to investigate Ugandan soldiers who may have committed crimes during the conflict.”

(Quelle: IRIN News.)