6 June 2010

Uganda: Ocampo - No Impunity for War Crimes


The International Criminal Court Review conference is taking place in Kampala where member states have to agree on controversial issues such as the legal definition of the crime of aggression and ICC's jurisdiction over the crime.

Sunday Monitor's ISMAIL MUSA LADU met the ICC Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo and asked him these and other matters of national interest:-

How important is Uganda's situation to the ICC?

Uganda was for us (ICC) the first referral and the first arrest warrant issued. We have always tried to understand what happened in Northern Uganda, looked at the peculiar situation in northern Uganda where killing of innocent people by the LRA took place.

So we have tried to understand these dynamics. Now the situation is much better, no crimes for the last year because of a common effort. I remember in a meeting with different community leaders' in the Hague we discussed the importance of talking to Sudan to stop supporting the LRA.

That was a critical element of our work. Sudan signed the agreement and implemented the deal that saw Kony leave South Sudan. This explains why there is now calm in the northern Uganda.

However we are still pursuing him but we are glad that he is not making trouble in Northern Uganda and children in Gulu are in there homes and attending school.

Hasn't the arrest warrant left the Juba peace talks in jeopardy?

Without arrest warrants, Joseph Kony would not have left Sudan.

Kony and the LRA would still be attacking people in northern Uganda. With the agreement he had to leave Sudan, there was no more support. During the peace talks he got thousands of dollars which he used to re-group. He was never sincere with the peace talks and the warrants had to be issued . He has to stand trial .

Will he ever be brought to justice; aren't you frustrated that it is getting long to find him?

To arrest him we need different operations because he has no army. Working with the government of Uganda we are trying to galvanise efforts to arrest him. We do not need to fight or kill the LRA members.

We need to arrest Joseph Kony and his deputies. I would like to put him on trial. I want to know why he killed and abducted so many children. Killing so many innocent people -civilians. He will not be stopped by fighting him. He is in areas that are not easy to control, with US engagement it is important that we get him and he is tried for war crimes.

Can you consider withdrawing the arrest warrant to bring him on the negotiating table?

I can't withdraw the arrest warrant. I'm prepared to put up a case in court it is not a political solution. Kony is a criminal and he is responsible for all the crimes he committed against the Acholi people.

Why don't you put a bounty on his head?

We can't offer cash our selves but I know a group of people have done that and certainly anybody who will lead to his arrest will be rewarded. As soon as Kony is arrested we will go for trial and other crimes he has committed and can be tried here will be decided by the judge.

What's your view about the perception that the ICC targets only Africans. Aren't you bothered by such claims?

I am proud of what I am doing. We didn't handle well the situation in Rwanda after the genocide and Congo war.

But we will not fail in Kenya, northern Uganda and Darfur. But the court is an international court. The difference is that the super powers use their big armies to defend their countries while small countries use international law to protect themselves. That's why the review conference taking place in Kampala is important to sort out these differences.

What is your expectation of the Review conference ?

The conference offers an opportunity for member states to show that they can protect the victims of war, should avoid new wars. Kampala gives an opportunity for protection of people's rights against wars and all the crimes committed during wars.

Kony, Bashir will all be prosecuted. There will be no impunity for war crimes.

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