Gov't to register children born during LRA war

May 12, 2019

The decision follows estimates from a pilot study done in 2018 in the region, that showed that about 6,000 children were born during the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) war.

 ICC judge Solomy Bossa speaking at a dialogue on African Union(AU) transitional justice policy in Kampala. PHOTO: Carol Natukunda 
The government plans to roll out a special birth certificate registration programme for children born during the war in Northern Uganda.
The decision follows estimates from a pilot study done in 2018 in the region, that showed that about 6,000 children were born during the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) war.
"The groups that investigated this focused on returnees -- mainly young women and girls who were abducted but returned with children. Some of them are victims of rape, sexual slavery, and forced marriages," said Margaret Ajok, the technical advisor of transitional justice at the Justice Law and Order Sector (JLOS).
"Beginning with the Financial Year 2019/2020, we are going to allocate money to NIRA( National Identification  and Registration Authority) to give instant birth certificates to this category of people."
During the 20-year-old LRA war that started in 1987, an estimated 1.8 million displaced persons were pushed into squalid camps and thousands of others killed.
In 2004, the government of Uganda referred the case to the International Criminal Court(ICC), which issued arrest warrants against rebel leader Joseph Kony and his top commanders Vincent Otti and Dominic Ongwen. Kony is still at large, while Otti has been reported dead. 
However, Ongwen is undergoing trial at the ICC, where he faces 70 charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity such as murder, torture and sexual slavery.
Ajok stressed that it was important to deal with post-war trauma to avoid discrimination in access to services.
She made remarks recently during a dialogue on African Union(AU) transitional justice policy, in Kampala.  Adopted in February 2019, the AU policy is a continental guideline for member states to resolve conflicts and achieve sustainable peace, justice, reconciliation, and healing.
During the dialogue, another panelist disclosed that the trauma of the victims of war was enormous. 
"These children born of war are now youths. They see people who driving cars or children going to school and wonder why it is them that had to be born in such a background. They have no fathers," said Lyandro Komakech, the Gulu Municipality Member of Parliament.
"I interacted with one of them. Who told me that he thought that going back to violence would be a fair deal. Meanwhile, mental health is also real in the communities," said Komakech, challenging stakeholders to take physical and psychological rehabilitation seriously.
Referring to the AU policy, Komakech also challenged the bloc to do better in addressing conflicts.
"The policy does not discuss how AU must help or do anything," he stated.
On her part, ICC judge Solomy Balungi Bossa emphasised that impunity must not be tolerated in any country.
"All the crimes which shock the human conscience must be investigated. Whether they are leaders or not, perpetrators must be subjected to the law, " she said adding that the ICC is a court of last resort.
The event was also attended by media practitioners from South Sudan and Uganda, supported by Trust Africa, in partnership with ICC and the Netherlands Embassy in Kampala. The journalists received training in international criminal justice reporting.


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