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Uganda war crimes court will only hear Lord's Resistance Army cases: judge

[JURIST] The High Court of Uganda [official website] will not try soldiers from the Ugandan People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) if they are accused of human rights abuses, according to Wednesday statements by Justice Dan Akiiki-Kiiza [official profile], the head of the Court's War Crimes Division. The head justice insisted that the mandate of the court is restricted to the prosecution of members of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) [JURIST news archive] and that the present Juba Peace Agreement, though unsigned, restricts the court to prosecuting only those crimes listed in the International Criminal Court (ICC) indictments [official documents]. On Tuesday, the chief negotiator for the LRA, David Nyekorach Matsanga, said rebel leader Joseph Kony [BBC profile] had agreed to sign the Juba Peace Agreement between his movement and the Ugandan government despite the ICC's outstanding arrest warrants for him and three other LRA leaders. Dropping the arrest warrants had been a major sticking point in the negotiations and a condition to the consent of the War Crimes Division. The Monitor has more.

Critics of the War Crimes Division, including international human rights organization Amnesty International [advocacy website], have accused both the the ICC and the Ugandan special court of unfairly concentrating on only one side of the 22-year conflict by failing to prosecute members of the UPDF. Simon Oyet, a legislator from the war-affected Gulu region, cautioned [The Monitor report] that by "only hold[ing] one side accountable...some UPDF soldiers, known to have tortured and murdered hundreds of people in my region, go free." To date, Ugandan military personnel accused of abuses during the conflict are subject to military tribunals, which have been criticized both for their lack of transparency and lack of an appeals process.

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