Thomas Kwoyelo awaits the start of his trial in Gulu, July 2011. Photo: Justice and Reconciliation Project
A few days ago, former Lord’s Resistance Army (‘LRA’) rebel commander, Thomas Kwoyelo, seemingly made a direct appeal to President Yoweri Museveni to be pardoned for crimes he is alleged to have committed in northern Uganda during the civil war. In an interview with the government-sponsored newspaper, the New Vision, Kwoyelo is quoted as saying:
“Having undergone various rehabilitation programmes, I have realised my past mistakes like any other Ugandan who erred.
I pray that the President gives me a second chance in life.” Kwoyelo, who is currently on a peacemaking and reconciliation programme, said he has benefited from the course and pledged to practice what he has learnt because it calls for reconciliation with God and the society he wronged.
“I am willing to work with the Government at all cost. Once considered for clemency, I swear never to go back to rebel activities,” he said.
This plea for clemency, and the timing of it, is intriguing for a number of reasons. But first, some background and context for those not familiar with the case of Thomas Kwoyelo.
The ADC-ICTY Legacy Conference will take place in the Bel Air Hotel, The Hague, on 29 November 2013. The keynote speech will be delivered by H.E. Judge Theodor Meron, ICTY President. Speakers and moderators include The Right Hon. Lord Iain Bonomy, Judge Bakone Justice Moloto, Judge Howard Morrison, as well as renowned Defence Counsel. The conference is organised with the support of the Law Faculty of the Erasmus University Rotterdam.
You can follow the ADC-ICTY Legacy Conference on Twitter – follow @ADCICTYLegacy. @ADCICTYLegacy aims at providing information about the conference and the publication that will follow. On 29 November, they will be live tweeting from the conference for those who are unable to attend. The schedule is available here.
To register for the conference, please click here and for any other information on the conference, please contact Isabel Duesterhoeft at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For information on social media issues relating to the conference, please contact Anna Katulu at email@example.com.
Laurent and Simone Gbagbo, shortly after their arrest in 2011. Photo: The Guardian.
On Friday, reports from Côte d’Ivoire indicated that the government intends to lodge an admissibility challenge to the prosecution of Simone Gbagbo, the wife of former Head of State, Laurent Gbagbo, whose case is currently in the pre-trial phase at the International Criminal Court.
While a formal public motion has not yet been lodged to the Pre-Trial Chamber challenging admissibility, the government has released a statement saying:
‘The decision of the cabinet aims to have Mrs Gbagbo brought to trial by Ivorian courts, whose good reputation has been restored and which can hold a fair trial that will guarantee the rights of the defence.’
The statement comes just a few days after the African Union announced it would hold a summit next month to call for a mass withdrawal of African States from the ICC, to protest against the prosecution of the Kenyan President and Vice-President, Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto.
Côte d’Ivoire’s co-operation with the ICC regarding Simone’s transfer has not been as smooth when compared to that of her husband. His arrest warrant was issued under seal on 23 November 2011 and he was transferred to the seat of the court on 30 November 2011. It took a mere week to get him to the Hague. Compare that to his wife’s situation. The warrant for Simone was first issued under seal in February 2012 (it was subsequently made public in November 2012), yet 18 months later she remains in the custody of the Ivorian authorities.
Beyond The Hague is delighted to welcome Sophie Rigney for this timely piece on the relevance of international law to the Syrian situation. This post is cross-posted from New Matilda, where it was first published on 28 August.
International law’s capacity to remedy the crisis in Syria is fraught. How will investigators collect evidence under sniper fire? What about Russia’s veto – and US intervention?
The alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria has galvanised calls for action to stop further mass atrocities, and to ensure those responsible are held to account. While the conflict in Syria has progressed for over two years and claimed between 80,000 and 100,000 lives, this chemical weapons attack has been widely perceived as having crossed a new line of unacceptability in the war. It has serious implications for the Syrian conflict.
Photo credit: NBC
There are two separate, but linked, issues of international law that arise from this recent attack.
The first is the question of external intervention through use of force (either by a country like the United States, a coalition of countries, or a regional cooperation institution like NATO).
In particular, what prerequisites would an external party or parties need to satisfy in order to legally use force in Syria? Military intervention is, in principle, contrary to Article 2(4) of the United Nations Charter. Recent comments by US President Barack Obama demonstrate that international law is very much to be considered as part of this decision-making process (or at least, that having a legal rationale for the use of force is seen to be preferable).
History tells us that politically motivated violence occurs in every society at some point during its existence. Be it in time of independence or rebellion, young people invariably play a role in perpetrating acts of violence. Indeed, in weak and emerging societies, political leaders sometimes play a subversive role in manipulating and mobilising young people to violently realise and further their own political objectives.
Mobilising youth to commit political violence is not an inherently African problem, but is common in many societies around the world. With the recent elections in Zimbabwe, this post takes a deeper look at the mobilisation of African youth in political violence.
ODM supporters protest following the 2007 Kenyan elections. (Photo: nipate.com)
Young men and women get involved in violence for diverse and context-specific reasons. The prevailing theme in the commentary on youth and violence is that exclusion and lack of opportunities faced by young people leads to disillusionment and, in some cases, their participation in violence. Unemployment, insufficient educational opportunities, poor governance and social marginalisation can lead to the deep disaffection of youth in society, increasing the likelihood of them resorting to anti-social activity and engagement in violence.
On 21 May 2013, the Republic of Uganda became the first state in Africa to publish a comprehensive Draft Transitional Justice Policy. Six years after the Juba Peace negotiations between the Lord’s Resistance Army (‘LRA’) and the Government of Uganda (‘GoU’) ended without being formally signed by both parties, the GoU has committed itself to implementing an holistic Transitional Justice policy, designed to address issues of accountability, reparation and reconciliation in post-conflict Uganda. While still a ‘draft’ policy, it marks an historic step by the GoU in creating a framework designed to implement the provisions of the ‘Agreement on Accountability and Reconciliation’, Item no. 3 of the Juba Peace Agreement.
At the beginning of the Juba negotiations, Joseph Kony and his deputy Vincent Otti sit inside a tent at Ri-Kwamba in Southern Sudan. (Photo credit: CSMonitor)
In summary, the draft Ugandan policy provides for the following central interventions:
Regarding formal justice processes, the GoU shall ensure witnesses are protected and victims can participate in proceedings;
The GoU commits to recognizing traditional justice mechanisms as a tool for conflict resolution;
The GoU shall establish and resource a national truth-telling process;
The GoU shall establish and implement a reparations programme for victims affected by conflict; and
There shall be no blanket amnesty, with those who have already received amnesty encouraged to participate in truth-telling and traditional justice processes.
On the five commitments listed above, some brief reflections: