Global Policy Forum

War Crimes Court Probes Uganda Atrocities

Agence France Presse
July 29, 2004

The International Criminal Court (ICC) said on Thursday it has launched an investigation into atrocities in Uganda including the slaughter of more than 200 people this year. "The massacre is part of the investigation," said Christian Palme, a spokesperson for the prosecutor, referring to the killings in the Barlonyo displaced persons' camp in northern Uganda in February. He said, however, that the ICC probe is not targeting specifically rebels from the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) who allegedly carried out the attack. "We will investigate any crime committed in northern Uganda since July 1 2002 [the date the ICC became a legal reality]. It is not restricted to any party," Palme said. The spokesperson said a team of investigators will be on the ground in northern Uganda "fairly soon".

The LRA is notorious for its human-rights abuses. It tends to swell it ranks by raiding camps for displaced people in northern Uganda and kidnapping children living there, forcing boys into combat and girls into sexual slavery. On Thursday, the Ugandan army said it has killed 120 rebel fighters during clashes in southern Sudan and narrowly missed capturing the insurgents' leader.

In December last year Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni asked the newly created permanent war crimes court in The Hague to investigate the alleged war crimes. This is the second official probe to be opened by the court. In June, prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo announced he will investigate "grave crimes" including mass murder, rape and torture in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The ICC is mandated to prosecute genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. It can only investigate crimes that occurred since the court was established and only if they took place on the territory of or by a citizen of a signatory state.

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