ARLPI Engages with Parliament over the Domestication of the Rome Statute
KAMPALA, UGANDA- On July 7th-8th, ARLPI’s Chairman, Archbishop Odama and ARLPI founding Core team member, Rt. Bishop Ochola attended a workshop at the Uganda Parliament Conference Hall in Kampala regarding the domestication of the Rome Statute.
The meeting sought to present a drafted bill which seeks to update the laws of Uganda to coincide with the commitments made during the signing of the Rome Stature. Such a bill would require the government of Uganda to put measures in place to adequately deal with genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. It also calls for the country to internalize and spell out how crimes committed in the rest of the world will be addressed if the perpetrators either visit Uganda or are of Ugandan citizenship.
Chief Justice for the Special High Court for Uganda, Justice James Ogola expressed that for any bill to contribute to sustainable peace in Uganda, it must incorporate traditional/restorative justice mechanisms, make room for a truth telling component, and also address the issue of national reconciliation.
For years, the religious leaders who make up ARLPI’s Core team have advocated for traditional mechanisms of justice such as Mato Oput to be implemented in order to promote reconciliation among the people. Catholic Archbishop Odama, ARLPI’s chairman states, “We must find a way to look at how the traditional mechanisms were done in the past and use that wisdom to foster healing among our people.” He also expressed that the death penalty should not be used as a punishment for the crimes covered by the Rome Stature as Uganda must be in line with sentences given by the ICC.
The Rome Statue paved the way for the controversial International Criminal Court (ICC). Currently the ICC has investigated 4 African countries with Uganda being the first case. However, the ICC has received much criticism about its timing and sensitivity to ongoing peace processes, its failure to acknowledge wrongdoing by the government of Uganda, and the courts decision to target mainly African personalities.
In response to such criticisms, in a recent June 8-9th meeting in Addis Ababa, all but one of the 30 AU member states who are signatories to the Statute made the decision not pursue the arrest of Sudanese President Omar El Bashir until the AU has conducted their own set of findings. This has put Uganda in a query as President Museveni personally invited the ICC to conduct investigations into alleged war crimes committed by the LRA which led to the indictments of five top LRA commanders in 2006.
After a recent visit to Uganda by the Chief Prosecutor of the ICC, Luis Moreno Ocampo, the government of Uganda made a U-turn and announced that the indicted Sudanese President would indeed face arrest if he does decide to enter the country. This comes after Ocampo said Uganda would be legally obliged to respect the arrest warrants as a signatory to the Rome Statue.
An official position statement by President Museveni over the possible arrest of President Bashir is still pending.