Minister for Justice Kahinda Otafiire(R) and deputy attorney general, Mwesigwa Rukutana appearing before the legal and parliamentary affairs committee on April 11, 2017. Photo by Maria Wamala
It’s over a decade since the International Court of Justice slapped Uganda with a $10b bill for allegedly pillaging eastern DRC and committing crimes against humanity during the protracted insurgency in the late 1990s.
In 1999, then DRC president Laurent-Desire Kabila sued Uganda at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) sitting at The Hague, Netherlands.
However, deputy attorney general, Mwesigwa Rukutana earlier today told lawmakers sitting on the legal and parliamentary affairs committee that Uganda is unlikely to pay the hefty bill.
“This matter is still being contested and it’s really unlikely that we can pay that sort of money to DRC,” Rukutana said.
Rukutana was part of government technocrats and top brass from ministry of justice led by justice and constitutional affairs minister, Kahinda Otafiire, meeting legislators over the ministry’s budget estimates for the next financial year.
Rukutana was responding to queries by MPs Sam Bitangaro and shadow attorney general, Wilfred Niwagaba over government’s reluctance to settle the issue with DRC.
In 2014, then attorney general, Peter Nyombi, led a delegation of government technocrats to South Africa which met DRC officials over the $10b bill.
Uganda had been part of several countries that had supported Kabila’s three-year uprising that saw his forces overthrow president Mobutu Sese Seko’s government in 1997.
However, after a fall-out between Kampala and Kinshasa, Kabila sued Uganda and the ICJ in 2005 granted its request of a $10b fine. Uganda insists the UPDF were deployed in the Congo to protect national security.