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Uganda government reaches war crimes court agreement with LRA rebels

[JURIST] The government of Uganda has reached an agreement with the rebel Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) [MIPT backgrounder; JURIST news archive] to establish a war crimes court [JURIST report] to prosecute crimes against humanity committed during Uganda's civil war [BBC Q&A], the BBC reported Tuesday. A government spokesman said that a special unit will be established to investigate and prosecute crimes, and that a division of the Ugandan High Court [official website] will be dedicated to more serious crimes. Crimes against women and children will be high priorities, as will systematic patterns of crimes committed by the same individuals. The government has set a February 28 deadline for the LRA to end fighting, and representatives from both sides say a peace agreement may be signed soon.

The move is part of the government's larger effort to broker a peace deal with the LRA; until recently, the government has indicated it would not sign an agreement unless the International Criminal Court withdraws its indictments [ICC materials; JURIST report] of five LRA leaders. The five ICC-issued warrants were executed in 2005 and include LRA senior member Vincent Otti and LRA leader Joseph Kony [BBC profiles]. In 2007, Otti was executed by rebels [BBC report], though official confirmation of his death was delayed until last month amid fears that it would disrupt peace talks. Kony, who remains in hiding, is wanted for orchestrating the killing of thousands of civilians and the enslavement of thousands more children over two decades of conflict. The government has said that Kony is willing to face trial at home [JURIST report], but not at the ICC. BBC News has more.

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