Otunnu Pins Museveni to Serious War Crimes

By Norman S. Miwambo

26th March 2012:

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Dr. Olara Otunnu in London, 2012

UPC Party President Dr. Olara Otunnu, who is on a working visit to the United Kingdom, has established a contributory link between President Yoweri Museveni’s role and the war crimes for which Congolese warlord Thomas Lubanga was convicted by the Hague-based International Criminal Court [ICC].

In an exclusive interview with this news paper, Dr Otunnu started by welcoming the conviction of Thomas Lubanga.  “I am happy with the conviction.  Actually, it’s the first conviction of the ICC since it was established in 2002,” Dr Otunnu said in reference to the March 14 judgement.

Commenting on the specific charge of recruiting child soldiers for which Lubanga was convicted, Otunnu, a former UN Under Secretary General for Children in Armed Conflict, also highlighted his role in framing the war crimes offence.

“The three charges against him were all to do with the recruitment and abuse of children,” said Otunnu, adding that:  “In fact, the particular provision in the Rome Statute under which Thomas Lubagnga was convicted is something I drafted myself.” Otunnu said.

The UPC leader also wasted no time in establishing a firm link between Lubanga’s crimes and Uganda’s role in aiding and abetting those war crimes.  “Lubanga was a relatively small player in the DR Congo.  What gave Luganga his power and sway in the Congo was actually sponsorship by Ugandan leaders,” Otunnu said.

He added:  “As you know, this is not Olara making things up.  There is a very thick Judgement that was delivered…not by the ICC…but by the International Court of Justice.  Numerous charges of crimes committed by Uganda in the Congo are in that Judgement.  Aggression, crimes of war, crimes against humanity, it is all those things.”

Dr Otunnu, a Harvard trained Lawyer, also said he believes that Ugandan leaders and commanders are legitimate suspects for prosecution under the Rome Statute. “The little fellow [Lubanga] who was manipulated from Uganda been charged, but the real fellows who were in charge of his crimes are walking scot-free.  That is what is wrong with the application of the Rome Statue.” Otunnu charged.

He said he told ICC Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo that the ICC’s process and choice of those to be indicted has been highly politicised and highly selective.  “I still very much hope that what was done inside Uganda, on Ugandan territory and elsewhere in Congo will be punished.  I hope to see a day of reckoning when the ICC will investigate and bring them to book for what they did.” said Otunnu.

“Thomas Lubanga was not a hugely significant player in the overall scheme of things.” Otunnu maintained.  END.  Please login to www.ugandacorrespondent.com every Monday to read our top stories and anytime mid-week for our news updates.

http://www.ugandacorrespondent.com/articles/2012/03/otunnu-pins-museveni-to-serious-war-crimes/

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — The International Criminal Court handed down its first sentence Tuesday, imprisoning for 14 years a Congolese warlord convicted of using child soldiers.

Thomas Lubanga was convicted in March of recruiting and using children in his Union of Congolese Patriots militia, sending them to kill and be killed during fighting in Congo’s eastern Ituri region in 2002-2003.

Presiding Judge Adrian Fulford said the sentence reflected the need to protect children in wartime.

“The vulnerability of children means they need to be afforded particular protection,” he said at the sentencing hearing.

The 51-year-old Lubanga is the first person convicted by the 10-year-old permanent war crimes tribunal.

Rights activists hailed the case as a milestone in efforts to prosecute the widespread use of child soldiers in conflicts around the world.

Prosecutors had asked for a 30-year sentence, but said they would be willing to cut it to 20 years if Lubanga offered a “genuine apology” to victims of his crimes.

Congolese warlord Thomas Lubanga awaits his sentence in the courtroom of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, Netherlands, Tuesday, July 10, 2012. (AP Photo/Jerry Lampen, Pool)

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