Posts Tagged ‘the hague’

By Milton Olupot

PRESIDENT Yoweri Museveni has said he is ready to be tried by the International Criminal Court (ICC), if he committed crimes against humanity.

The President said this during the launch of the National Resistance Movement (NRM) Communication Bureau in Kampala on Friday.

Parliament last week passed the ICC Bill, three years after it was tabled. The Bill makes a provision in Uganda’s law for the prosecution and punishment for international crimes against humanity and war crimes.

Asked by journalists whether he would surrender any of the government officials or himself to the court now that Uganda had passed the Bill, Museveni said he would be willing to stand trial.

“I would be very happy to be tried. If I committed crimes against humanity, I should be tried,” he replied.

Mengo has threatened to drag some government and security officials to the ICC for quelling the September riots, in which more than 20 people were killed.

The President, however, noted that the law in Uganda allows for private prosecution. He wondered why those who talk about the ICC have not brought any criminal charges against security officers.

“Certainly if any of our officers committed any crimes, we would have tried them here,” he said. “Since we came to power, we have executed 123 people for killing others. Those going to The Hague are wasting their time.”

Responding to the question that LRA leader Joseph Kony was in Darfur and being facilitated by the Sudanese government, Museveni said Ugandan troops pursuing the rebels in the Central African Republic had sent a brief that Kony and a small group of his fighters had disappeared near Darfur.

He, however, assured Ugandans that Kony and his fighters would never come back to Uganda.

“If the Sudanese want to accommodate him in Darfur, that is upon them. Darfur is 1,000 miles away from Uganda. Why should I worry about a man who is 1,000 miles away?”

Kony and his commanders were indicted by the ICC in 2005. The court wants them to face trial for crimes against humanity. In their 22-year war, the LRA killed, maimed, raped and abducted civilians in northern Uganda.

The Bill passed last week is intended to enforce the law in Uganda after the Rome Statute was adopted by the UN in 1998 and ratified by Uganda in 2002.

It will enable Uganda to co-operate with the ICC in the investigation and prosecution of people accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

It further provides for the arrest and surrender to the ICC of persons alleged to have committed crimes against humanity, in addition to enabling the ICC conduct proceedings in Uganda.

A total of 110 countries have ratified the Rome Statute. The US and China have not done so.

via Welcome To The Sunday Vision online: Uganda’s leading weekly.

My Thoughts

“President Museveni needs to stand trial for his crimes against humanity.  It is well documented and the early NRA used child soldiers as well as  forced conscription of children into the NRA. Museveni is just another tyrant who has only fixed the area’s that he wanted fixed. He may have bought relative stability to the south but what about the north? for 24 yrs he allowed Kony and his LRA Rebels to pillage, rape and abduct the Acholi and Luo of Northern Uganda. Then the Ugandan military pushed them over the border into DRC, Sudan and CAR – now the LRA are committing the same crimes in those countries.  As he say’s “why should i worry about a person who is 1000 miles away” – he never worried even when kony was in the North of Uganda. He didn’t care as Kony was more prone to attack the civilians than the soliders. Its as if Museveni wanted to destroy the Acholi. There are also documented cases of Museveni’s NRA pillaging, Raping and Torturing civilians in the North as well. Stealing cattle and maiming/murdering those who stood in the way.

Museveni MUST be investigated by the ICC and must be tried for his part in the NRA take over of DR Obote’s government.

I really feel for the people of Uganda, Amin, Obote & Museveni are all tyrannts, who have manipulated their government and rulings to suit themselves. They want the power and money and therefore will use it against any who challenge them.

My only hope is that the 2011 elections in Uganda are a Free and Fair election and that someone else is elected president. Museveni believes that Roads are the key to the country’s future. Infastructure, Electricity, Access to clean water and health care and what the country needs in order to survive, with less poverty and illness.

Mr Museveni, Shame On YOU! ”

Rebecca Fowler – Freeuganda

Sheila Velez

6 January 2010

The defence in the trial of alleged Congolese warlord Thomas Lubanga Dyilo – the first war crimes trial to be conducted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) – is scheduled to begin on Thursday. Ahead of the resumption of the case, Sheila Velez sketches the background.

The silence of the public gallery is interrupted only by the slow rise of the blinds. We are about to watch history in the making. Behind bulletproof glass a courtroom appears – the heart of the International Criminal Court. On the right, the prosecution. On the left, the defence, their sombre robes contrasting starkly with the courtroom’s pale wood furnishings. In their midst – dapper, calm, attentive – sits the eye of this storm: Thomas Lubanga Dyilo, the first person ever to face trial at the ICC.

Who is this man, and what has he done to earn his dubious distinction? Now quietly jotting notes, now leaning over to consult with one of his lawyers, take away the setting and he could be a businessman as unremarkable as any you encounter on the streets of London, Brussels or New York every day of the week. Hardly a Radovan Karadzic or a Pol Pot. Hardly a Josef Mengele, whose experiments on children left the few survivors scarred for life.

When the Second World War ended, nobody expected that we would ever again allow destruction on such a scale. Five decades later, so inured had we become to wholesale slaughter that five million people could die in a new Great War, the Second Congo War, and their untold sufferings would remain just that.

Until now. Because in the course of this landmark trial, not just experts but children who became the victims of this war are taking the stand to speak to the charges that as president of the Union des Patriots Congolais (UPC), between September 2002 and August 2003 Thomas Lubanga recruited, trained and used hundreds of young children to pillage, rape and kill.

Lubanga is a member of the Hema ethnic group from Ituri, a district in the northeast corner of the Congo which has about the same land area and population size as the Republic of Ireland. Born in 1960, he secured a degree in psychology from the University of Kisangani. Married, with seven children, by the late 1990s there was no particular indication that this family man would ever become a feared warlord. In fact well into the Second Congo War he was still working as a trader, selling beans in the market of Bunia, Ituri’s capital.

However, the war would set him on a path to power and notoriety, not so much for any personal military feats as for his dedication to an inherently ethnic view of politics in which the Hema as a group must either eliminate all threats or be eliminated.

From the late 1990s Ituri had become a particular focal point for violence as different factions involved in the wider war battled for control of its mineral wealth. Decades of mistrust between Ituri’s ethnic groups, particularly between the Hema and Lendu, were manipulated for political ends with deadly consequences.

In June 2000, hundreds of Hema soldiers in the Rassemblement Congolais, the movement then in control of Ituri, went to Uganda for two months’ military training. When they returned, tradesman Lubanga became their spokesman. It didn’t matter to them that he had no previous political experience. He was educated, an intellectual, and he would speak on behalf of his ethnic group. The seeds of the UPC had been planted.

In January 2001, Lubanga joined the Rassemblement Congolais government as commissioner for youth and sports. Later becoming defence commissioner, he recruited even more Hema troops. Sidelined by the Rassemblement Congolais from involvement in an April 2002 peace deal designed to end the war in the Congo, Lubanga broke away, taking his Hema soldiers with him.

Turning on his old masters, in August 2002 his forces chased the Rassemblement Congolais out of Bunia, launching attacks on the Lendu and anyone they identified as “Jajambu” (outsiders). Almost total anarchy ensued as the UPC and rival ethnic militias not only fought each other but killed civilians from opposing ethnic groups with indiscriminate barbarity. And all sides were using child soldiers.

Now, as evidence is led in an ICC courtroom at The Hague in the Netherlands, figures in green military fatigues, clapping and singing, fill screens in the public gallery. In the midst of the figures is a slightly slimmer version of the man now in the dock. The frame freezes. The deputy prosecutor’s voice cuts in.

“Witness, do you know the person who is on the screen?” The girl in the witness stand – identified only as “Witness Ten” and who even now can barely be out of her teens – confirms: “It’s Thomas Lubanga.” She adds, “There was one song. When we sang it, some people cried, like me, because I knew I didn’t have a family anymore and that I was all alone. I couldn’t really express the sadness I felt, and I couldn’t really say that I was afraid.”

By  September 2002, Thomas Lubanga had been appointed president of the UPC.  From then on he would brook no opposition. He would be not merely the president but the “Rais” – a king-like leader invested with permanent and sacred authority by his community; the protector of the Hema, in an existential war demanding the participation and contribution of every Hema man, woman and child.

Children were enticed, abducted, even given up by their parents for military training, the parents acting to protect themselves and their ethnic group. Many of the children were aged 10 to 15, some allegedly as young as five.

But why? What does a war machine gain from being fed with children?

Militias around the world in recent years have made a cynical calculation: that children can be exploited without payment; that they are loyal, obedient and unlikely to mutiny; that they show less fear in battle, are less capable of assessing risks and consequences than adults. And if they are girls, they are likely also to be useful as domestic servants and sex slaves.

“I used to be a virgin before I entered the UPC, but they took away my virginity. I saw the blood that completely destroyed my life,” Witness Ten tells the court. Murmured conversation in the public gallery falls silent. “I cry every day, for I have no mother or father. I’m alone and it’s hurting… When I think about it, I feel like killing myself.”

Elisabeth Schauer, a doctor in clinical psychology, and head of an NGO working on rehabilitation after trauma, addresses the court.

“Any experience where the perpetrator is physically close with a knife, with a gun, raping you, assaulting you; such experiences are more likely to cause us to develop psychiatric disorders,” she says. “Traumatic or emotionally important memories for us are burned into memory, right? Trauma doesn’t subside. Trauma doesn’t go away. You can be traumatised at age 11 and die with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder when you’re 70 years old.”

If the UPC was using child soldiers, it was doing nothing new. Hundreds of thousands of children are in service in armed conflicts around the world. Whatever its outcome for Thomas Lubanga, the message this trial sends is new: Use children as soldiers, even in a war as lawless as that in the Congo, and one day you may forfeit your liberty.  So for anyone who values children, the future of our world, this trial matters.

Sheila Velez is a freelance journalist and author of the “Lubanga Chronicles” which document the ICC trial.

via allAfrica.com: Congo-Kinshasa: Lubanga Trial Highlights Plight of Child Soldiers.

So over the weekend i had my sons 9th Birthday party and my 2 yr old Daughter was quite sick so have been spending my time with my children this weekend. Was nice to have some quality time at the animal park with the kids, to watch them play and ask questions about the animals and birds, they are such awesome lil things. it really makes me wonder how and why children in other parts of the world are looked at like commodities or objects.

I just cannot express how much it deeply confuses me in this day and age why we have so much suffering, so much poverty and so much intolerance. I just dont understand, maybe ive too much compassion, maybe ive too much empathy. I just cannot sit by knowing that each day every 3.6 seconds (approx) a child is dying due to hunger. the number of the worlds hungry has peaked at over 1 BILLION, yep that is correct, 1 BILLION. How on earth in 2009 can we honestly say that 1 Billion people do not have access to food. I Urge you all to check out the World Food Programmes A billion for A billion campaign – Think about this:

For US$ 5 you can nourish a baby for 1 year
For US$50 you can feed a child in school for 1 year
For US$170 you feed a hungry person for 1 year

 

Now that is not alot of money is it? Considering half of those in the Western World cannot live with under $20,000 a year, its a small price to pay for helping those in need.

If your not so comfortable donating, why not look at sponsoring a child. Compassion Australia are a fantastic organisation worldwide that sponsor children. i currently sponsor 2 children through compassion and pen pal another 2 who already have financial benefactors who cannot write. This brings me much personal satisfaction and spiritual satisfaction. to get letters and pictures from the children makes me so happy, i see they are happy in those pictures and letters. i know they are being looked after and their lives actually have meaning. I know they are well feed at the compassion centres, in a time of need they will open the doors to other members of the family if need be. They create vege gardens for the parents and families of the compassion assisted children, they are a wonderful organisation who i have much time for.


Jose – Colombia Winifred – Uganda
My Sponsor Children
Arn’t they such beautiful little souls!!