23 May 2013

Uganda: Mao Slams ICC Double Standards

Oxford - The International Criminal Court lacks impartiality and its selective justice targets only the weak, the president general of the Democratic Party has said in a speech at Oxford University, London.

Norbert Mao said that much as it's necessary to have an international court that overrides local jurisdiction, there should be a required level of impartiality. Mao spoke at an event hosted by Oxford Central African Forum at the Oxford University's Department of Politics and International Relations.

His presentation was under the theme: 'When Law Meets Reality: The International Criminal Court (ICC) and Challenges of Transitional Justice in Africa.'

The DP leader questioned why the ICC has never indicted some Islamist terrorists who have committed crimes against humanity.

"Could this be out of fear that they will blow up the train stations and buildings in Europe?" asked Mao.

He castigated the ICC for undermining the peace talks that were meant to end the Lord's Resistance Army war in Northern Uganda. Mao, a key player in the dialogue while serving as chairman of Gulu District, said the LRA leader, Joseph Kony, never came out to sign the agreement because of the continuous threats issued by the then ICC prosecutor, Moreno Ocampo.

"One day I asked Ocampo, had your mother been living in Internally Displaced Persons' camps, would you issue those press releases from your air conditioned office in The Hague in the middle of the talks?" Mao said even if Kony was guilty of terrible atrocities, it was still possible to talk to him in the interest of people's lives. He added that justice is not only about punishment but also accountability and reconciliation.

Mao further questioned why the ICC has not indicted President Museveni yet there is evidence to warrant such an indictment.

"Ocampo says the UPDF atrocities were not grave enough to warrant an indictment, but that is wrong. Did Kony have helicopter gunships? Is it only Kony's guns that killed people?" he asked.

"Why is the bar being lowered for certain leaders like Museveni and [Paul] Kagame? Why is the net wider for them and closer for other leaders?"

Mao's audience comprised mainly students and lecturers at the Department of Politics and International Relations, Oxford University. Arguing that there was no need to displace people, Mao said internally displaced people's camps in northern Uganda had killed more people than the rebels themselves.

Mao accused Western governments of turning a blind eye because they still need President Museveni for their strategic interests in the Great Lakes region.

"How come he spends debt relief money to buy himself the latest jets and not even the British Foreign Secretary William Hague makes mention of it?" he said.

Mao also accused President Museveni of trying to impose his son, Brig. Muhoozi Kainerugaba, on Ugandans as a future president. Asked by his co-presenter, Dr Phil Clerk of the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), whether change in Uganda will come from a united opposition or within the NRM, Mao said his party DP is eager to work on an agenda-driven unity rather than a personality-driven unity.

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