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Workshop to Validate Transitional Justice Study Report Held

On July 18, 2012 the Justice Law and Order Sector held a National Workshop to validate its report of the study on Traditional Justice, Truth-Telling and National Reconciliation, an initiative taken by the Transitional Justice Working Group (TJWG) of JLOS. The Chief Justice, Honorable B.J. Odoki, Chief Justice of Uganda, officially opened the workshop.

The study report was prepared by the Uganda Law Reform Commission (ULRC) on behalf of the Justice Law and Order Sector following nation-wide consultations. The study was undertaken as part of the Government of Uganda’s commitment to implementing the Juba Agreement and its annexure on Accountability and Reconciliation.

The findings, recommendations and conclusions constitute primary sources for proposals for the national Transitional Justice Policy, which will provide an overarching policy framework on the use of traditional justice mechanisms, truth-telling processes and the delivery of reparations in a transitional-justice context. The National Transitional Justice Policy will seek to adopt an integrated and holistic approach to achieving justice and accountability for conflict-crimes in Uganda by employing both formal and alternative justice mechanisms.

The specific objectives of the study were to:

1. Conduct a nation-wide survey of the use of traditional justice and truth-telling practices and mechanisms; including the identification of various traditional dispute resolution systems and practices across targeted sub-regions;
2. Identify the type of issues, disputes, conflicts, crimes and offenses that are most often addressed by traditional justice and truth-telling mechanisms;
3. Establish the role of traditional justice and truth-telling mechanisms in achieving conflict resolution, justice, accountability and reconciliation;
4. Identify the advantages and disadvantages of the use of traditional justice and truth-telling mechanisms in settling disputes or other offenses;
5. Ascertain the appropriateness, availability and accessibility of traditional justice and truth-telling mechanisms to address conflict-related crimes and offenses;
6. Identify and explain the role of women and children in traditional justice and truth-telling mechanisms.

The proposals are intended to complement the measures adopted by the GoU in the area of formal criminal justice system. The proposals provide for three key areas, namely:

1. Traditional Justice Mechanisms in post-conflict situations
2. Truth-telling Mechanisms in post-conflict situations
3. Reparations Mechanisms in post-conflict situations

Some of the key draft proposals t considered at the validation workshop addressed the folowing:

• Recognition, strengthening and promotion of traditional justice mechanisms for community-based conflicts;
• Developing a national legislation to guide the processes relating to the use of traditional justice mechanisms;
• Designing a framework for the use of traditional justice mechanisms
• Establishment of community-driven truth-telling processes;
• Establishment of a reparations programme and ensuring complementarity with other mechanisms.

Once validated, the policy proposals contained in the report will inform the development of the National Transitional Justice Policy, which will provide for a number of mechanisms, both formal and informal, to address issues of accountability and reconciliation for crimes committed during the armed conflict in Northern Uganda.

The policy will be national in scope and seek to adopt mechanisms and strategies to address past abuses as well as prevent future-armed conflict in Uganda.

 

By Margaret Ajok and Edgar Kuhimbisa