The International Criminal Court (ICC) has reduced its presence in Uganda following years of no judicial activity despite initiating a prosecution process in the country nine years ago.
we have established that the treaty-based first permanent international court has over the years cut down on its staffing and other resources such as money that is allocated to its outreach office in Uganda.
The Hague-based court begun to establish its presence in Uganda when in 2003, government referred the case of the Lord’s Resistance Army rebellion to the court whose mandate includes ending impunity. The referral prompted the court to open investigations into the activities of the forces involved in the rebellion before issuing arrest warrants against five top leaders of the rebel group.
Joseph Kony, Vincent Otti, Okot Odhiambo, Dominic Ongwen and Raska Lukwiya were initially announced wanted by the court for crimes against humanity as the prosecution process got underway. However, the number of the suspects later reduced to four when in 2007, the court confirmed that Raska Lukwiya had been killed.
Years later, the prosecution process has failed to advance, a dilemma, which appears to have prompted the court to cut down on its presence in the country to avoid spending money when there is no progress on the prosecution process.
Jimmy Otim, an Assistant Outreach Coordinator for ICC in Uganda confirmed the reduction on the court’s presence and activities in the country. He described their operation as a maintenance strategy in the absence of any active judicial process. Otim however added that the ICC country Office was yet involved in outreach activities but on a reduced scale too.
The development has resulted in the relocation of some of the staff members such as Maria Mabinty Kamara, the ICC Uganda Outreach Coordinator who is now heading the Outreach Office in Kenya.
Despite the downsizing exercise, Otim said the Uganda situation was yet active before the court and only awaiting arrest of the suspects.
However, while the situation in Uganda appears to have slowed, the court is busy in neighbouring Kenya where suspects including Uhuru Kenyatta, the president-elect are facing charges of crimes against humanity such as murder, deportation or forcible transfer, rape and persecution.
Kenyatta’s co-accused, Francis Kirimi Muthaura was on Monday pronounced free after Bensouda Fatou, the ICC Prosecutor said she had asked the judges to drop charges against him.
ICC presently has 18 cases in the 8 countries of Uganda, Kenya, Sudan, Libya, Central African Republic, DR Congo, Ivory Coast and Mali.
The court has also opened preliminary investigations in other countries such as Afghanistan, Georgia, Guinea, Colombia, Honduras, Korea and Nigeria