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Foreign judges to be on war crimes courtPublish Date: Jan 26, 2010
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By Taddeo Bwambale

PRINCIPAL Judge James Ogoola has said the judiciary is considering recruiting some foreign judges for the war crimes court to help in dealing with crimes of international nature.

“We are considering the idea of introducing foreign judges in our court. Since we are handling cases of international nature, we think it will improve the quality of judgment and create a good perception about our work,” he said.

Ogoola said in case the court fails to find judges, experts or advisers on the crimes under investigation will be hired.

He was speaking at a public dialogue at Kampala Serena Hotel on Monday, organised by the International Criminal Court (ICC).

He said Uganda has put in place an appropriate legal framework in which to charge the Lord’s Resistance Army leader, Joseph Kony, if he were to come out of the bush.

Ogoola said the war crimes court had done sufficient ground work and consultations to handle international crime.

“If Kony were to appear at our doorstep tomorrow, we are confident that justice will be done,” he said.

He described some international laws as being “very formalistic and western oriented,’ adding that they only aim at punishing culprits without addressing the pain of the affected communities.

He appealed to all Ugandans to support the passing of the ICC Bill, which is currently before Parliament, saying that it has appropriate provisions to deliver justice to victims of rights abuse.

The Bill defines war crimes, regulates trial proceedings and recommends punishment for those found guilty.

Ogoola said under the bill, only top LRA commanders will be punished, adding that traditional justice systems such as mato oput, will be used to help offenders reform and be reintegrated into society.

A truth-telling commission, he noted, will also be set up to facilitate a healing process and examine the causes of the crimes.

At the dialogue, the president of the assembly of state parties to the ICC, Christian Wenaweser, hailed Uganda’s efforts to domesticate the provisions of the court.

Ogoola said the ICC review conference, which takes place in Kampala in May, will handle amendments to key provisions of the court.

He added that the conference will also discuss new crimes such as aggression and the principle in which the ICC handles crimes that member states are not able to prosecute on their own.

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