BIG STORY: ICJ to Rule on $4bn Uganda-DRC War Reparations Case

The International Court of Justice (ICJ), the principal judicial organ of the United Nations, will on February 9 deliver its Judgment in the long-running case lodged by the DR Congo seeking $4bn in reparations from Uganda for the latter’s role in the conflicts in the country’s mineral-rich Ituri province.

A public sitting of the Court will take place at 3 p.m. at the Peace Palace in The Hague, during which the President of the ICJ, Judge Joan E. Donoghue, will read out the Court’s decision.

“In view of the current COVID-19 pandemic, only Members of the Court and representatives of the Parties will be present in the Great Hall of Justice. Members of the diplomatic corps, the media and the public will be able to follow the reading through a live webcast on the Court’s website, as well as on UN Web TV,” ICJ said in a statement seen by ChimpReports on Saturday morning.

The hearings, which opened on 20 April 2021, began with the first round of oral arguments of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Uganda, followed by two days of questions for the four experts appointed by the Court.

The hearings concluded with the second round of oral arguments of both Parties, at the end of which the Agents of each delegation presented their final submission.

The construction of Kampala-Jinja expressway will cost $1bn. This means the amount of money demanded by DRC in reparations can build 4 similar 77-km expressways.

Dispute

On December 19, 2005, the ICJ found that Uganda, by engaging in military activities against the Democratic Republic of the Congo on the latter’s territory, by occupying Ituri and by actively extending military, logistic, economic and financial support to irregular forces having operated on the territory of the DRC in the 1990s, violated the principle of non-use of force in international relations and the principle of non-intervention.

Uganda and Rwanda invaded DRC to fight President Mobuto Sseseko’s government which was accused of supporting rebels seeking to oust the regimes of Yoweri Museveni and Paul Kagame.

Uganda contended that, since 1994, it was the victim of military operations and other destabilizing activities carried out by hostile armed groups based in the DRC and either supported or tolerated by successive Congolese governments.

Court said Uganda fell short of producing sufficient evidence to show that DR Congo provided political and military support to anti-Ugandan rebel movements.
The Court noted that during this period, the DRC was in fact acting together with Uganda against the rebels, not in support of them.

The ICJ also ruled that Uganda, by the conduct of its armed forces, which committed acts of killing, torture and other forms of inhumane treatment of the Congolese civilian population, destroyed villages and civilian buildings, failed to distinguish between civilian and military targets and to protect the civilian population in fighting with other combatants, trained child soldiers, incited ethnic conflict and failed to take measures to put an end to such conflict; as well as by its failure, as an occupying Power, to take measures to respect and ensure respect for human rights and international humanitarian law in Ituri district, violated its obligations under international human rights law and international humanitarian law.

AG Kiryowa Kiwanuka is leading Uganda’s defence team

The international court also ruled that Uganda, by acts of looting, plundering and exploitation of Congolese natural resources committed by members of the Ugandan armed forces in the territory of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and by its failure to comply with its obligations as an occupying Power in Ituri district to prevent acts of looting, plundering and exploitation of Congolese natural resources, violated obligations owed to the Democratic Republic of the Congo under international law.
Uganda win

However, ICJ decided that by the conduct of its armed forces, which attacked the Ugandan Embassy in Kinshasa, maltreated Ugandan diplomats and other individuals on the Embassy premises, maltreated Ugandan diplomats at Ndjili International Airport, as well as by its failure to provide the Ugandan Embassy and Ugandan diplomats with effective protection and by its failure to prevent archives and Ugandan property from being seized from the premises of the Ugandan Embassy, violated obligations owed to the Republic of Uganda under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1961.

Court also found that DR Congo was under obligation to make reparation to Uganda for the injury caused.
ICJ said it was not convinced that Uganda participated in the attack on Kitona (which lies in the west of the DRC, some 1,800 km from the Ugandan frontier) on 4 August 1998. It however found that Uganda captured a number of locations in the east of the DRC and in other areas of that country between August 1998 and early July 1999.

The Court did not accept Uganda’s contention that its military actions from early August 1998 to July 1999 can be justified as actions in self-defence.

The Court concluded that Uganda violated the sovereignty and also the territorial integrity of the DRC and that Uganda’s actions equally constituted an interference in the internal affairs of the DRC and in the civil war raging there.

“The unlawful military intervention by Uganda was of such magnitude and duration that the Court considers it to be a grave violation of the prohibition on the use of force expressed in Article 2, paragraph 4, of the Charter,” ruled ICJ.

President Yoweri Museveni met with his Congolese counterpart Felix Tshisekedi at State House in Entebbe in March, 2019

The Court, however, stated that there was no credible evidence to support the DRC’s allegation that Uganda created and controlled the Congo Liberation Movement (MLC), a rebel movement led by Mr. Bemba.
Looting

Court found that it had not been presented with credible evidence to prove that there was a governmental policy of Uganda directed at the exploitation of the DRC’s natural resources, or that Uganda’s military intervention was carried out in order to obtain access to Congolese resources.

At the same time, court considered that it had ample persuasive evidence to conclude that officers and soldiers of the UPDF, including the most high-ranking officers, were involved in the looting, plundering and exploitation of the DRC’s natural resources and that the military authorities did not take any measures to put an end to these acts.

Thus, the Court concluded that Uganda is internationally responsible for acts of looting, plundering and exploitation of the DRC’s natural resources committed by members of the UPDF in the territory of the DRC, for violating its obligation of vigilance in regard to these acts and for failing to comply with its obligations under Article 43 of the Hague Regulations of 1907 as an occupying Power in Ituri in respect of all acts of looting, plundering and exploitation of natural resources in the occupied territory.
Reparations

Uganda was ordered to pay the DR Congo in compensation for the damage resulting from the violations of international law found by the Court in its Judgment of 19 December 2005.

These included US$4,350,421,800 for personal injury; US$239, 971,970 for damage to property; US$1,043,563,809) for damage to natural resources; and US$5,714,000,775 for macroeconomic injury.
Uganda was also required, by way of giving satisfaction, to pay the Democratic Republic of the Congo the sum of US$25 million for the creation of a fund to promote reconciliation between the Hema and Lendu in Ituri, and the sum of US$100 million for the non-material harm suffered by the Congolese State as a result of the violations of international law found by the Court in its Judgment of 19 December 2005.

The ICJ also directed Uganda by way of giving satisfaction, to conduct investigations and criminal prosecutions of the individuals involved in the violations of international humanitarian law or international human rights legislation committed in Congolese territory between 1998 and 2003 for which Uganda has been found responsible.

In the event of non-payment of the compensation awarded by the Court at the date of the ruling, moratory interest would accrue on the principal sum at a rate of 6 per cent.

Uganda was also told to reimburse the Democratic Republic of the Congo for all the costs incurred by it in the context of the present case.
Defence

In its defence, Uganda argued that DRC was entitled to reparation in the form of compensation after “demonstrating and proving to ICJ the exact injury that was suffered as a result of specific actions of Uganda constituting internationally wrongful acts for which it is responsible.”
Uganda also requested that each party bears its own costs of these proceedings; and “reject all other submissions of the DRC.”

Uganda also said it was otherwise entitled to payment of US$982,797.73 by DR Congo in compensation for the injury resulting from the invasion, seizure and long-term occupation of Uganda’s Chancery compound in Kinshasa.

This amount was not contested by the DR Congo in the context of the proceedings before the Court.
ICJ said the compensation thus awarded to Uganda will be offset against that awarded to the DR Congo on the basis of its principal claims in the present case.

In Hague, Uganda’s legal team is led by Attorney General Kiryowa Kiwanuka.

Uganda’s relations with DR Congo have since improved with armies from both countries conducting joint operations against militants in the eastern part of the vast country to pave the way for the construction of modern road infrastructure to spur regional trade.

The post BIG STORY: ICJ to Rule on $4bn Uganda-DRC War Reparations Case first appeared on ChimpReports.

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