NOVEMBER 22, 2010: Bishop Wants All War Victims Paid

Bishop Wants All War Victims Paid

SOURCE: The New Vision

By Pascal Kwesiga

THE Government should compensate all victims of the LRA insurgency, retired Anglican bishop Macleord Baker Ochola has said.

Reacting to a pledge by President Yoweri Museveni to pay the victims, Ochola said there should be equal compensation.

Ochola was speaking during the launch of the Institute for African Transitional Justice at the Imperial Royal Hotel in Kampala yesterday.

He stated that reparations of the victims of the 20-year civil war should be made through a policy enacted by Parliament and not through "political statements".

"The President was in Gulu and Amuru recently and he promised that the people whose relatives were killed in that area would be compensated. To me, this is a political statement," he said.

Addressing a rally at Awere Primary School in Amuru district recently, Museveni, the NRM presidential candidate in next year's general elections, assured the people of Acholi that the Government would compensate 5,000 LRA victims this year.

The President disclosed that a list of victims had been compiled, adding he would consult with the Solicitor General to determine the amount of money to be paid to those who were maimed or lost their relatives during the insurgency.

However, Ochola argued that reparations, restocking and education programmes should be undertaken through policies to promote durable peace and reconciliation.

He added that atrocities were committed against the people of Lango, Acholi and Teso, and they should all be considered for compensation.

He noted that there was need for truth-telling from all the parties involved in the LRA conflict to kick start a genuine reconciliation process.

Ochola castigated the International Criminal Court (ICC) for only investigating the LRA rebels for crimes against humanity they allegedly committed during the war.

"The matter is not being investigated in its totality. The LRA, UPDF soldiers and wrong doers in the community might have been involved," he added.

The ICC issued arrest warrants in 2005 for the leader of the LRA, Joseph Kony, and four of his top commanders after Museveni appealed to the court to investigate the rebels for crimes against humanity.

Retired Principal Judge James Ogola said the major obstacle facing the ICC was relying on member states to arrest and hand over suspects.

He added that the LRA commanders needed to be tried at home under the traditional justice system to enable public participation.

Dr. Chris Dolan, the director of the Refugee Law Project of Makerere University, which set up the Institute for African Transitional Justice, said there was need to assist people affected by armed conflicts to come to terms with the effects.

He said the institute would explore new models of transitional justice to stop relying on irrelevant ones.

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