October 2013

Day October 14, 2013


The drama and all pretences are over. Deputy Speaker Jacob Oulanyah, having experienced and tested the turbulent waters (in form of exercising authority over and above what is provided for in the applicable rules of procedure) came to face to face with reality. He was not going to sustain his demand for a written apology from Hon. Ssemujju et al. There was going to be a show down in Parliament on Tuesday – and the pressure on him was becoming unbearable gauging from the “kicks and punches” he was receiving from the day he ordered the physical removal of the MP from the house. The lines had been drawn and the following actions were all targeting the Dep. Speaker:

· a court case was to be lodged in the constitutional court to dismiss his orders

· the opposition was to table a motion to investigate his behavior

· the three MPs were threatening to enter Parliament by force – repeatedly emphasizing that they will never apologize to him in this case.

In order to find a soft landing, he called the Leader of opposition in Parliament (Hon. Mafabi) and went into peace talks, which resulted into the unexpected – Oulanyah turned out to be the man to apologise “on their behalf”. The rest is the history our children will read about in the years ahead.

The reason I am penning down these few paragraphs is not for any political objective, but for the purpose of discussing JUSTICE. In recent years, the noble values of Justice and honesty have deteriorated almost irreparably in our society (country). People with authority have introduced the culture of bending the laws to serve their selfish interests to the detriment of their subordinates or followers. This practice is slowly changing the way people perceive the laws. Instead of protecting us, and establishing fairness, laws have become the tools which the leaders use to oppress, marginalize, and harass the weak. It is very common these days for leaders to twist laws, rules, and regulations to exercise and assert their superiority (or settle scores with opponents), even if such laws were never designed for such purposes. These things amount to INJUSTICE and in my own view are eroding people’s confidence in the law.

What Hon. Ssemujju did in Parliament was the action of “last resort” for a weak person being unjustifiably harassed by a powerful leader using the law. He defied and accepted to bear the consequences of the forceful actions of the man with authority. The lesson from this scenario to me is one. We need to gather courage and say no to leaders who abuse their authority and power under the cover of the law. This is one PRACTICAL way of fighting INJUSTICE.


Five of the ICC’s 18 judges are African, as is its vice president, Sanji Mmasenono Monageng of Botswana- Desmond Tutu

October 10, 2013
In Africa, Seeking a License to Kill

CAPE TOWN — MEMBERS of the African Union will meet in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, today to discuss recent calls by some African leaders to withdraw from the International Criminal Court. These calls must be resisted. The continent has suffered the consequences of unaccountable governance for too long to disown the protections offered by the I.C.C.

Those leaders seeking to skirt the court are effectively looking for a license to kill, maim and oppress their own people without consequence. They believe the interests of the people should not stand in the way of their ambitions of wealth and power; that being held to account by the I.C.C. interferes with their ability to achieve these ambitions; and that those who get in their way — the victims: their own people — should remain faceless and voiceless.

Most of all, they believe that neither the golden rule, nor the rule of law, applies to them.

But they know that they cannot say these things in public without repercussions. Instead, they conveniently accuse the I.C.C. of racism.

At first glance, the claim might seem plausible. The I.C.C., founded in 2002 and based in The Hague, has so far considered only cases against Africans.But this is partly because independent tribunals that were established to handle cases concerning the former Yugoslavia, Cambodia and other countries have naturally led to a reduction in the scope of the court’s activities.

So far, 32 people have been publicly indicted by the court, with only one conviction, of Thomas Lubanga, for war crimes in the Democratic Republic of Congo. But many of the investigations were not initiated by the court or a foreign body; they were referred to the court by African governments themselves. The judges and investigators were invited in.

So the African focus of the court should not be seen as an indictment of its neutrality but of the quality of leadership and democracy in many African countries. When thousands of people are murdered and displaced in any country, as in Sudan, for instance, ideally the country’s own system of justice will redress the wrongs. That is not in dispute. But when that country is unwilling or unable to restore justice, as is the case in many African countries, who should represent the interests of the victims? Critics of the I.C.C. say, “Nobody.” They simply vilify the institution as racist and unjust, as Hermann Göring and his fellow Nazi defendants vilified the Nuremberg tribunals following World War II.

While some African leaders play both the race and colonial cards, the facts are clear. Far from being a so-called white man’s witch hunt, the I.C.C. could not be more African if it tried. More than 20 African countries helped to found the I.C.C. Of the 108 nations that initially joined the I.C.C., 30 are in Africa. Five of the court’s 18judges are African, as is its vice president, Sanji Mmasenono Monageng of Botswana. The court’s chief prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, who has huge power over which cases are brought forward, is from Gambia. The I.C.C. is very clearly an African court.

Leaving the I.C.C. would be a tragedy for Africa, as leaders like the former United Nations secretary general Kofi Annan, of Ghana, have noted. Without its deterrence, countries could and would attack their neighbors, or minorities in their own countries, with impunity. When Lubanga was arrested to face charges of enlisting and conscripting child soldiers, the threat of the I.C.C. undermined his support from other militias. After the Ivory Coast strongman Laurent Gbagbo was taken to face justice in The Hague, the country was able to rebuild.

Without this court, there would be no brake on the worst excesses of these criminals. And these violent leaders continue to plague Africa: the Great Lakes, Mali, northern Nigeria and Egypt all give reason for concern. Perpetrators of violence must not be allowed to wriggle free.

Moreover, where justice and order are not restored, there can be no healing, leaving violence and hatred ticking like a bomb in the corner. We know too well that long, painful road to healing in South Africa, as do the people of Kenya. As Africa begins to find its voice in world affairs, it must strengthen its commitment to the rule of law, not undermine it. These principles are part of our global moral and legal responsibility, not items from a menu we can choose only when it suits us.Along with thousands of others, I have joined a campaign by Avaaz, an international advocacy group, calling on Africa’s leaders to stay in the I.C.C. The alternatives are too painful: revenge, like what happened in Rwanda, Kosovo and Bosnia, or blanket amnesty and a national commitment to amnesia, like what happened in Chile. The only way any country can deal with its past is to confront it.

We need loud voices in Addis Ababa to deliver this message, to shout down those who want us to do nothing. We also need the continent’s heavyweights, Nigeria and South Africa, to exercise leadership and stop those who don’t like the rules from attempting to rewrite them. Far from a fight between Africa and the West, this is a fight within Africa, for its soul.

Desmond Tutu, the Anglican archbishop of Cape Town from 1986 to 1996, won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984 for his contribution to opposing apartheid.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: October 11, 2013

An earlier version of this article misspelled, at one point, the surname of a warlord convicted by the International Criminal Court. He is Thomas Lubanga, not Lubunga. The article also misstated the year of Mr. Lubanga’s arrest. It was in 2005, not two years ago.


I commend Uhuru Kenyatta’s writers for drafting a masterpiece speech but he was desperate to find sympathy in a hall crowded with some potential ICC inductees

Ugandans at heart,
If you are driving along the highway with the rest of traffic, and the patrolman pulls you over for speeding, will you really ask him why he singled you out for citation while he let the other motorists to continue with their speed?

I read President Kenyatta’s speech, and I commend his writers for drafting a masterpiece speech.But, however combative Uhuru was at that AU meeting, his speech rang hollow when analysed against his own immediate background and Kenya’s checkered history with the West.

Not long ago, during the campaigns, Uhuru dismissed the ICC matters as “personal challenges” and pledged to Kenyans that he and his deputy would juggle their official duties and attend the ICC cases without a hitch. He tacitly allowed his minions to promote the notion that it was Raila who proded the ICC to indict him. Suddenly, those “personal challenges” have turned into a major Kenyan problem that handcaps him and his deputy from executing their duties.

In that AU speech, Uhuru came close to vindicating Raila over the ICC cases.He said that one of the proposals Kenya had in addressing the PEV was to institute a local tribunal to seek justice for the victims. However, since squabbling among leading Kenyans continued to frustrate that idea, the government decided to take up the second option. That option, Uhuru said, was to allow the AU-appointed meditator, Kofi Annan to refer the case to the ICC.

In short, Uhuru was saying that since Kenyans were unable to agree on how to try the cases at home, they authorized Annan, who had been appointed by the AU, to send the case to the Hague.

The empty portion of Uhuru’s speech covered his own view of the role Kenya has played in Africa’s liberation. Here, he exaggerated for maximum effect in an attempt to cast his predicament as a harbinger of what will befall other African leaders.

Kenya was never an active player in the liberation struggles in Africa. Even as late as the 1980’s, Kenya was expelling ANC refugees, while trading with Apartheid regime down south. Even our own much-discredited Idi Amin was more influential in the liberation of Southern Africa than both Uhuru’s father and president Moi.

So, for Uhuru to launch such a loud attack against the west for what he sees as neo colonialism was act of dishonesty and a juvenile exhibition of poor understanding of international affairs. In fact, today’s Sunday Nation newspapers in a sensible editorial, pretty much told him off.

The AU audience itself is also self-contradictory: while they profess non-interference in internal affairs of others’ countries, they don’t see the problem here of interfering in Kenya’s internal affairs. Uhuru was misled in that speech, and he’s being misled by his peers at AU in taking a rabid stance against the ICC.

His bombastic attacks on US and UK might also come back to bite him. Either for poltical expediency or as is his character, Uhuru was not forthcoming with the source of his ICC problems during the campaigns.

And in fact, what Ambassador Jonny Carson said (elections have consequences) was no different from what Martha Karua had said earlier that electing UhuRuto would create major constitutional headaches for the country that might make governing impossible.

But now that those warnings have come to bear, Uhuru is desperate to find sympathy in a hall crowded with some potential ICC inductees. And to endear himself to the AU, Uhuru had the temerity to play the collective victimization card, that his ICC problems are not his alone, but rather a wider scheme by western powers to sabotage independent leaders in Africa.

Luck for him, Uhuru still finds some lazy, non-thinking thinkers in our midst, who swallow his nonsensical attempt at combative defense without chewing it.

I would rather we build the necessary capacity in Africa to handle such cases. But since the alleged crimes were committed when such a capacity has not been established, and since Kenya did not want the case tried locally, then the Hague was the only option, as President Uhuru explained at the AU.

Now, if we had reasonable leaders, at that AU meeting, there would have proposals coming from there to launch some initiative to start a continental legal apparatus that would handle future cases. But, as usual, all we got from the talking heads at AU just another disappointment.

By the time a continental court is constituted, all subscribing members will have agreed to cede some jurisdictional authority to it. Moreover, a court of that magnitude only covers specific cases. Its location should not be an issue; it can be housed right there at AU headquarters.

My overriding skepticism about the functionality of such a court is Africa’s time-honored adherence to tribalism and other sectarianism. That court will be reduced to arbitrating religious wars between Muslims and Christians, tribal disputes elevated as serious crimes, and all sorts of trivialities.

The current ICC is the best arena to handle cases that overwhelm states. And, I’m quite sure, that had Uhuru lost the elections, there hardly would be any grumblings from Africa about the overreach of this Court.

Members of Kenya parliament (MPs) have told off former UN Secretary General Koffi Annan over his warning to Kenya not to pull out of ICC. BUT Whoever sides with these MPs is an idot. Annan did not bring ICC to Kenya; Kenyans brought ICC unto themselves.I can’t control what some people want to attribute Kofi Annan, but I have followed the debacle that we now know as “Kenyans at The Hague”, especially where the same Annan and Raila strongly advised Kenya against forwarding this case to the ICC. The rallying chorus from some of these same MPs was, “Let’s not be vague, let’s go to the Hague.”

Edward Pojim

NRM Thugs beat me up such that i’m not ready to return to Uganda- George Okello

Friends at UAH,
I am not an “illegal immigrant” in the UK. Nobody can force me to leave the UK. I can only leave of my own free will. It is not the UK racist anti-immigrant laws that brought me to the UK. It is the UN Declaration on the Rights of Refugees of 1954 that brought me to the UK.I am therefore in the UK under the protection of the United Nations. The UK cannot return me to Uganda. This is termed “refoulment” in international law and is considered a serious violation of international law.

Section 33(1) of the Charter specifically forbids the return or expulsion of anyone who has been recognised as a refugee; such a person cannot be returned to his or to any other country. The only exception granted under the charter is if a refugee becomes “a danger to national security”. And my children cannot be expelled or forced to come to Uganda because they are British citizens.

Also I would need guarantees about my safety if I were to openly return to Uganda. My experiences so far have not been good. The last time I returned, I was kidnapped and imprisoned in Lubiri barracks where I was badly tortured. On the day of my release, I went personally to see Judge Odoki in his chambers at the High Court and narrated my ordeal. He merely told me he was shocked, but otherwise he said he had no comments to make.

The only NRA people that I know, who are high enough, are Mugisha Muntu and Henry Tumukunde, but both of them are out of favour. The other is Aston Kajara, my former classmate who actually helped me recover my £3,000 (less £500) that had been confiscated from me at Entebbe airport by the NRA guards, but although he is a government minister, he is not a military man.

I think I will just cross into Uganda through the village routes,avoiding the border posts altogether.The NRA people are ruthless, but may be very few of them now will recognise me anyway if I returned to Uganda. It is only those in the top ranks of military intelligence who would do so, to be precise. I doubt that the hired goons, the Kiboko squads or the black mambas would recognise me.

The last time I returned, I made a mistake of exposing myself so they very quickly got wind of my presence in the country. Because my money (£3000) had been stolen at Entebbe airport, the following morning I went to Professor Karugire’s office to try to get back the money or what was left of it. He was then the Director General of Customs and I knew him when he was a lecturer at Makerere University- besides I worked with him on one of the first Commissions of Inquiry that Museveni established in 1986. Also working at Customs at the time was Aston Kajara, my former classmate and now a government minister. The two of them promised to retrieve my money, which they did, minus £500.

The second day, I went to see Mugisha Muntu at Lubiri barracks and he in turn took me to see Amanya Mushega, who was then Minister of State for Defence. I arranged to see Muntu a few days later and then returned to town and kept calling on very many friends that day. On day three, I went to Makerere University to see Professors Jjuko, Khiddu Makubuya and Kiapi at the Law School to discuss my joining the faculty as a Lecturer as I was soon completing my Master’s degree.Professor Kiapi offered me a position as Lecturer, to teach Constitutional Law and to introduce Conflict of Laws as a new subject, to start at the beginning of the next academic year in september (my Master’s programme was ending in June).

On the fourth day, I went to the Law Development Centre to see Persy Tuhaise, my former classmate who was teaching there and is now a judge at the High Court. I was in a hurry, because I needed to meet other people at Uganda House, and also to meet a delegation of Kenyan lawyers who were visiting Uganda, so I told Persy I would come back to pick her up after 6 PM so we could go out for dinner. So I walked through Makerere Kivulu to Uganda House, then late afternoon went for a drink in a bar somewhere on the streets while waiting for my brother to come and pick me up and drop me at the LDC.

At around 6.30 PM, the NRA thugs struck. They wanted to search me, which I resisted as they had no warrant of arrest and were not wearing uniforms. That is when they set upon me like a pack of hungry wolves. I have never in my life been beaten so badly by about 7 or 9 people, who definitely were of Rwandan extraction. There soon gathered a huge crowd on the road watching all that was happening, it must have gone on for more than 30 minutes.

Some women came begging the thugs, asking them to stop it, telling them they were about to kill me as I lay prostrate on the ground, almost lifeless. I was then tied up kandooya style, dropped at the back of a pick-up truck then and driven to the Central Police station. Seeing me lying down on the floor, tied up and bleeding very profusely, the station commander refused to take me into custody. He said he couldn’t take the risk as I could die and he did not want to take the blame. I was then dumped into Lubiri barracks and became a disappeared person as my family did not know where I was taken.

After my release, I attempted to fly out through Entebbe airport, but I was forcefully removed from the plane just minutes before it took off and told to report to Central Police station on a daily basis to Nyakairima Aronda himself, who I think at the time was the military intelligence officer based at the CPS whose role was to interrogate people considered a threat to national security. But I left the country anyway that same day, because somehow I knew if I Aronda got hold of me, the man was going to make me disappear completely. Of this I was sure. People like Mugisha Muntu or Tumukunde might have protected me, but not Aronda. That is how heartless the man is.

So , it is only just out of cowardice that I have not returned to Uganda, but this is not the case because I am biding my time.The only time I was completely stateless was in 1988. I had fled Uganda, got a fellowship from the British Foreign Office to study for a Masters degree, but after the course, I had nowhere to go as I could not return to Uganda. I went to Nairobi to attend a conference organised by the Public Law Institute, then run by the late Dr Okii Ooko Ombaka, this was a one week conference, but after that, I did not know where I would go next- all I had were savings from my fellowship which was barely £2,000.

But fortunately for me, I presented such an outstanding paper at the conference that that same evening, Dr Ombaka came to my room and asked me what I planned to do. I told him I would appreciate if I got a job as a teaching assistant at the Law School at Nairobi University. He went and talked to Professor Atieno Odhiambo who was then the dean of Law. Professor Odhiambo, who had listened to me paper, told me about the job in the Philippines for an International Human Rights Lawyer. He was on the Boartd of the organisation and he told me I could take it if I wanted. Three months later, I was in the Philippines. And that is where i got my first wife and kid.

George Okello
UAH member in London

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