12 December 2012

Uganda: Kadaga Urges ICC to Let States Try War Lords

Photo: UN Photo/Evan Schneider
International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor Fatou Bensouda addresses the Security Council (file photo).

The Speaker of the Ugandan Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga has urged the International Criminal Court (ICC) to urgently address the conflict between the Rome Statute and national laws passed by states signatory to the Statute.

Addressing the 7th Consultative Assembly of Parliamentarians for the International Criminal Court and the World Parliamentary Conference on Human Rights in Rome Italy on Monday, Kadaga noted that although Uganda had in place the necessary legal and institutional framework, the ICC has refused to grant a request to withdraw the case of LRA rebel leaders it referred to the ICC.

"The principle of complementarity allows state parties the right to take charge and conduct trials of offences which are the preserve of the ICC. States should be free to refer a matter to ICC, withdraw it or direct proceedings to be carried out by the state's local courts. Uganda tried to withdraw its reference to the ICC concerning the leaders of the LRA but without success," she told delegates.

The Speaker said peace talks with the rebel outfit to end a 20 year brutal war failed because government could not convince the rebels that they would not be handed over to the ICC.

She reaffirmed the need to empower states to use alternative means of justice and conduct trials for war crimes committed within their jurisdiction.

"The ICC Statute and its operations are not superior to national laws of any Member state. Although the state party has signed and ratified the Rome Statute, it doesn't surrender its right to exercise criminal jurisdiction on its citizens," Speaker Kadaga said.

She reminded the ICC to consider traditional mechanisms of justice and dispute resolution like the Mato-oput which are common in many African states.

Kadaga also expressed concern over the failure by major UN Member states to ratify the ICC Act.

"We feel the ICC has been greatly undermined by the non membership of the bigger nations like the USA and China who all have an impact on how we move. Some African nations have called on African states to withdraw enmass from the Statute in protest at allegations that the court targets Africa and specifically the indictment of Sudanese President Omar El-Bashir. But Uganda still supports the ICC," the Speaker told delegates.

Only 120 member states of the UN have ratified the ICC Statute.32 African countries are signatories to the Statute.

The USA enacted the American Service Members Act that prevents its servicemen from being tried by the ICC for alleged crimes against humanity.

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