The ICC President interacts with affected communities in northern Uganda


On 29 and 30 May 2010, the President of the ICC, Judge Sang-Hyun Song, paid a two-day visit to Gulu district in the Acholi sub-region (north Uganda) to interact with various groups of affected communities and listen to their views and concerns in relation to the mandate and operations of the Court.

In the course of his various meetings, the President responded to questions raised by the audience regarding the outstanding arrest warrants for members of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), state cooperation and reparations for victims, as well as on the role of the ICC in Africa and the importance of justice for peace.

The President emphasised that the establishment of the ICC has been a crucial step in the fight against impunity, and that serious crimes of concern to the international community must be addressed through adequate justice mechanisms. ''Many nations around the world agreed in 1998 to create the ICC in order to help punish those who commit the worst of crimes [...], and by punishing those most responsible for committing these crimes, fewer crimes would be committed. In this way, justice can support sustainable peace'', said the ICC President.

On the first day of his visit, President Song met with the local authorities of Gulu district, including the Resident District Commissioner and the Chairman of the Local Council Five. He then participated in an outreach meeting at the town hall attended by over 350 people, including victims' groups, representatives of civic organisations and community leaders. The President also visited a Trust Fund for Victims sponsored project implemented by AVSI. This project, offering psychosocial services and assisting in capacity building in northern Uganda, aims also at improving access and quality of medical rehabilitation to disabled and disfigured victims of war through provision of prosthetics, orthotics and reconstructive plastic surgery.

Before concluding his visit, President Song participated in an outreach meeting at the Lukodi camp, attended by more than 670 internally displaced persons from the surrounding villages. Participants included women and young people, representatives of community-based organisations and of unions of people with disabilities, teachers, religious and local leaders, media representatives and students.

The President had come to Uganda to take part in the Review Conference of the Rome Statute, to be held in Kampala from 31 May to 11 June 2010. This conference is a significant milestone for the International Criminal Court, as it will be the first opportunity for the States Parties to the Rome Statute to make amendments to the Statute since its entry into force on 1 July 2002. Additionally, the Review Conference will be an occasion for a "stocktaking" of international justice.

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