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ICD Visits National Memory and Peace Documentation Centre in Kitgum
Front: (L-R) Hon. Justice Richard Wabwire Wejuli, HW Juliet Hatanga

Hon. Justice Richard Wabwire Wejuli of the International Crimes Division(ICD) together with the Court's Deputy Registrar, HW Juliet Hatanga and Mr Henry Kilama Komakech (Victims' Counsel),on Thursday January 25, 2024 visited the National Memory and Peace Documentation Centre in Kitgum. 

The visit was to get a bird's eye view of the LRA- Government of Uganda conflict and to forge a collaboration with the Centre.

The team was taken through the documented literature of the conflict timeline from 1900 till 2012. Starting with the suppression by the British and the killing of the Madi chief, the lamogi rebellion, the Alice Lakwena Holy spirit movement and finally the LRA led by Joseph Kony among others. The team was received by Mr. Ojok David Stephen, the Center Manager, Refugee Law Project.  

The team was presented with the different forms of harms of war. These include; massacres, were people were massacred in different parts of the country and buried in mass graves. Several monuments have been constructed in memory of victims of sexual harassment, survivors' testimonies, scars got as the result of the war, and missing persons.

Mr Ojok stated that Uganda has along history of disappearances of abductees since some are still missing. In abid to keep hope, some homes have constructed empty grass-thatched huts for their spirits to return in. 

Adding that some of the children born out of war still suffer stigma in the communities. 

On transitional justice, Mr Ojok emphasized the use of mato-oput, kayo cuck, tumu-chere, lareket, among the acholi, ailuc in Teso and tolu-si -Lola in West Nile region. All these are traditional justice mechanisms that have been practiced by communities to reconcile conflicting parties. It is understood by the different communities.  

HW Hatanga inquired whether the Center would be willing to collaborate with court in helping the public understand and appreciate the nature of cases that the ICD handles. 

She observed that many people are not aware of the impact of war crimes to the affected community which calls for legal awareness and publicity. 

Hon. Justice Wabwire commended Mr. Ojok and the team for interesting themselves in documenting and preserving the history of the conflict in Uganda. He was intrigued with the simplicity of then narrative of a very complex topic in such a simple way that even an ordinary person can comprehend. 

Mr. Ojok expressed interest in sharing some of their artifacts with ICD to expound learning on conflict resolution. "If people understand the triggers of conflict, a lot of harm can be avoided. Conflict permeates human suffering," he said.

Mr. Kilama appreciated the ICD for carrying out the extended outreach. "I must admit that this has been a great learning opportunity for me as victims' counsel. I shall definitely use this information when the time comes for victims' reparation," he said.

Posted 25th, January 2024
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