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The East African : Jan 14th 2017
8 NEWS The EastAfrican JANUARY 14-20,2017 REPARATION AND INTERNATIONAL JUSTICE Uganda seeks to stall $10b Congo Hague case Kampala was accused of a≥med agg≥ession, massive human≥ights violations and looting BACKGROUND By GAAKI KIGAMBO Special Correspondent K ampala last week dispatched Attorney General William Byaruhanga to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) at The Hague, as renewed pressure mounted on the government to settle an almost 20 year-old reparation dispute with the Democratic Republic of Cong. The Court in 2005 ordered the government of Uganda to pay $10 billion to DR Congo following a complaint Kinshasa filed in 1999. The complaint covered acts of armed aggression, massive human-rights violations, looting, destruction, confiscation of property and arrest of persons and other unlawful acts against its neighbour. A political solution has been in the works between the two countries since 2014 when the governments moved to repair relations. Time is now of the essence to expedite this. Mr Byaruhanga reportedly left Kampala early last week for The Hague, in response to a December 6 order by which the Court fixed February 6, 2018 as the time-limit for Uganda to file its response so that the court could rule on the question of reparations without any further delay. In a November 22, 2016 meeting held by the president of the Court, Uganda had requested a time limit of 16 months so that it could translate into English DR Congo’s “extremely voluminous pleading” written in French, in order to prepare its own adequate response. However, Mr Byaruhanga’s Congolese counterpart objected to Uganda’s request, noting that almost 11 years had passed since the ICJ adjudged Kampala guilty on December 19, 2005. DR Congo’s AG argued that the victims of Uganda’s invasion and plunder of his country have waited since then for justice and any further delays would be an even graver disservice to them even more. Kinshasa’s pleas appear to have been buttressed by a separate opinion of one of the 14 judges of the Court, who include Uganda’s Julia Sebutinde. Judge Cançado Trindade openly expressed displeasure at how proceedings on reparations in the DR Congo versus Uganda case have been handled. According to a summary of his opinion that the ICJ released, Judge Trindade said he found it “most regrettable” that “the graver the breaches of international law appear to be, the more time-consuming and difficult it becomes to impart justice,” as the case in question seemed to demonstrate. He noted how, whereas the Court had given due attention to the need for reparations, it should have also set up a reasonable time limit within which they should be implemented. This is because “the Court is not conditioned In 1999, DR Congo filed a suit against Uganda at the ICJ, accusing it of perpetrating “acts of armed aggression.” These, the country said, were in brazen violation of all international law, and constituted a threat to peace in the whole region. The suit followed Uganda’s invasion of DR Congo beginning around 1997. The country’s stated mission was to flush out rebels of the Allied Democratic Forces, who had attacked Kasese and Kabarole districts. But Kampala ended Ingabi≥e: Rwanda in cou≥t A JOINT REPORT The EastAfrican THE AFRICAN COURT of Human and People’s Rights is set to hear cases involving Rwanda despite the country’s plans to withdraw from the court. In March, the government of Rwanda will appear before the court in a case filed by jailed opposition politician Victoire Umuhoza Ingabire over alleged violation of her political and human rights. “The Ingabire matter has been fixed for public hearing on March 17, 2017,” said Dr Robert Eno, the registrar of the court. Ms Ingabire, the head of the unregistered political group the United Democratic Forces FDUInkingi, took Rwanda to the continental court claiming that her fundamental rights were violated in the course of her trial and subsequent sentencing. Through her lawyer’s conclusion, The last batch of UPDF soldiers return to Uganda May 19, 2003, through the town of Goli after withdrawing from the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Ituri region. Picture: File or limited by what the parties request or want, not even in the fixing of time-limits.” In Judge Trindade’s A political solution has been in the works between the two countries since 2014 when the governments moved to repair relations.” understanding, the duty of reparation “does not come, as a ‘secondary obligation,’ after the breach, to be complied when the States concerned deem feasible. The duty of reparation, a fundamental obligation, arises immediately with the breach, to be promptly complied with, so as to avoid the aggravation of the harm already done, and restore the integrity of the legal order.” This is not the first time either Uganda or DR Congo have sought extensions to prepare requisite documentation to support their case. The latter’s objection is thus surprising coming as it is at a time relations between the two countries have vastly improved. For instance, just last August, Kampala and Kinshasa commenced discussions on how to collaborate over joint economic activities in the exploitation of natural resources in common transboundary areas. Specifically, Uganda invited DR Congo to consider joining the construction of an export pipeline for crude oil from Hoima to the Tanzanian port of Tanga since both countries share the Albertine Basin where Uganda discovered its oil deposits and DR Congo is exploring for its own. Ingabire asked the court to quash the decision of the Rwandan Supreme Court that sentenced her to 15 years in prison and to order her release on parole. They also requested the court to repeal “with retroactive effect” provisions of the Rwandan penal code relating to the punishment of the crimes of propagating the ideology of genocide, which she criticised as being vague. “We would like the African Court to acknowledge that Ms Ingabire did not receive a fair trial in Rwanda,” Dr Caroline Buisman, one of the lawyers representing Ingabire, told The EastAfrican. The Dutch lawyer who last May was asked to leave Rwanda by immigration officials, says prehearing preparation is going well though she had not “personally met Ingabire.” “After my unsuccessful attempts to see her in May 2016, I did not try again to obtain a visa to enter Rwanda. Media: Da≥ accused of b≥eaching EAC t≥eaty By ASTERIUS BANZI Special Correspondent THE EAST AFRICAN Court of Justice will deliberate on whether the media law passed recently in Tanzania contravenes the East African Community Treaty. A petition filed at the court in Arusha this week by a coalition of Tanzanian media and human-rights organisations says that some sections of the Statistics Act and the Cybercrimes Act passed in November 2016 threaten freedom of the press and of expression. The coalition filing the petition com- prises the Media Council of Tanzania (MCT), the Legal and Human Rights Centre (LHRC) and the Tanzania Human Rights Defenders Coalition (THRDC). The coalition’s spokesperson, Kajubi Mukajanga, who is also the executive secretary of the MCT, said that the law also contravenes Article 7 (2) of the EAC Treaty, which binds partner states to uphold the principles of good governance including adherence to the principles of democracy, rule of law, social justice and the maintenance of universally accepted standards of human rights. Since its enactment, the law has met with widespread criticism from stakeholders. Critics cite as contentious, the appointment by the information minister of all seven members of the Journalists Accreditation Board — which is established by the law — and giving them powers to suspend or deregister journalists and impose fines for various offences relating to infringement of the Code of Ethics. The other contested issue is the mini- mum qualifications for journalists to be accredited and therefore allowed to practise journalism in the country. The law sets this as a degree in journalism or mass communication or other media-related fields; or at least a diploma in journalism and a degree in social sciences and humanities. The law also holds personally responsible, directors and individuals in the management of media companies, societies, associations and other corporate bodies for offences committed by editorial and other media staff. The EACJ is one of the organs of the EAC established under Article 9 of the Treaty.
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