AFRICA: International Court of Justice (ICJ) orders Uganda to pay DRC $10bln
By THE GUARDIAN
Court orders Uganda to pay Congo damages
Tue 20 Dec 2005
The international court of justice yesterday ordered Uganda to pay reparations to the Democratic Republic of Congo for the five-year occupation of its eastern regions.
The UN’s highest judicial body ruled that Uganda’s 1998-2003 intervention violated international sovereignty and led to the killing and torture of civilians and the destruction of villages. Kampala’s claim that it acted in self-defence was dismissed in a sweeping ruling which piled fresh pressure on President Yoweri Museveni.
The court upheld Congo’s claim that it had been the victim of unlawful military intervention, though it did not find a deliberate policy of terror. Kinshasa welcomed the ruling and said it would seek $6-$10bn (£3.4-£5.6bn) in compensation, an estimate the court said would be appropriate.
Uganda’s foreign minister, Okello Oryem, told Reuters the ruling was unfair. “We went in Congo to pursue rebels, we were not the only people in Congo.”
More than 3 million died in fighting which spawned myriad Congolese militias and rebel groups and sucked in armies from Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Zimbabwe, Angola and Namibia. Foreign forces withdrew after accords paved the way for Congo’s current fragile peace.
“By the conduct of its armed forces, which committed acts of killing, torture and other forms of inhumane treatment of the Congolese civilian population … [Uganda] violated its obligations under international human rights law,” Shi Jiuyong, president of the 17-member court based at The Hague, said in the judgment. It said Ugandan forces deployed child soldiers, stirred ethnic tension and stole natural resources. The ruling is final.
Kinshasa is to seek legal redress from Rwanda as well even though the government in Kigali did not recognise the court
A UN report in 2001 found that Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda intervened to secure their borders but later the plunder of resources became a reason to stay.
Yesterday’s decision was a further blow to Mr Museveni, 62, whose main rival, Kizza Besigye, 49, appeared in court yesterday to be charged with treason and rape. Mr Besigye pleaded not guilty, claiming that the charges were politically motivated. Sweden froze $5.1m in aid on Sunday because of Mr Museveni’s behaviour. Britain, the Netherlands, Norway and Ireland have already frozen some of their aid.
The president is also under pressure about the humanitarian toll in northern Uganda, where his forces have fought the Lord’s Resistance Army for two decades.
—— AUTO – GENERATED; Published (Halifax Canada Time AST) on: September 04, 2020 at 12:36AM