Uganda

Uganda: Government to seek review of ICC indictments against LRA leaders

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KAMPALA, 21 June 2007 (IRIN) - Uganda will "engage" the International Criminal Court (ICC) to seek a review of the indictments for war crime charges against leaders of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), internal affairs minister Ruhakana Rugunda said.

"The government will engage the ICC and present to it concrete evidence of agreed solutions to peace, impunity and reconciliation because we also don't want to condone impunity," Rugunda, the head of the government's delegation to peace talks with the LRA in Juba, Southern Sudan, told IRIN on 21 June.

The request to the ICC will be made only after the government and LRA reach a comprehensive agreement on how to end two decades of conflict that killed thousands and displaced hundreds of thousands more in northern Uganda, Rugunda said.

ICC officials could not be immediately reached for comment. The ICC has indicted five LRA commanders on charges of war crimes, including murder and abduction of civilians. They include LRA chief Joseph Kony and his deputy Vincent Otti.

The LRA has insisted the ICC drops the indictments in favour of Uganda's legal system, including the traditional Acholi justice system known as Mato Oput.

"We are not against the ICC; it is an institution that was started to help in certain circumstances, but the ICC has to give peace a chance. It is the Ugandan government that took that case to the ICC and if we agree on the mechanism of accountability and reconciliation they should be the ones to go back to the ICC and ask for review," the LRA chief negotiator, Martin Ojul, said on 21 June.

Rugunda said both sides were addressing the issue of accountability and reconciliation on the understanding that "those who committed crimes would admit [to] them and ask for forgiveness from the people, who are willing to forgive. Reparations, including compensation and helping victims, would be made thereafter," he added.

The next topic to be discussed at the talks was disarmament and reintegration, Rugunda said.

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