Uganda’s lack of reparations policy forces war victims to court

13 January 2015 by Samuel Egadu Okiror, Gulu (Uganda)

Gloria Laker struggles to support her three children and four siblings in Paicho, in northern Uganda’s Gulu district. Her husband and parents were killed in the two-decade-long war between the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) rebels and government troops. Despite a promise made by President Yoweri Museveni in 2010 to provide compensation to over 10,000 war-affected victims in the Acholi sub-region, Laker, like thousands of others, has never received anything.

Local drama group depicts crimes allegedly committed against civilians during armed conflict in northern Uganda. Copyright Flickr/ICC-CPI
Image caption: 
Local drama group depicts crimes allegedly committed against civilians during the armed conflict in northern Uganda (Flickr/ICC-CPI)

At least 6,000 people have since registered with Ugandan authorities for compensation in the districts of Gulu, Nwoya, Amuru, Pader, Agago, Kitgum and Lamwo. But, eight years since the cessation of hostility, victims still await government support.

“I am very frustrated with the government’s failure to provide us [victims] with reparations and compensation for the lost lives, property and harm suffered,” Laker told IJT.

The frustrations prompted her, with other victims, to hire well-known human rights lawyer Nicholas Opiyo to sue for the promised damages for lost family members, property and harm suffered. IJT was told that negotiations are on-going between Opiyo’s law firm and the government to settle out of court, but the lawyers refused to provide details on the “very sensitive” talks.

“I support the victims’ move,” Martin Ojara, the Gulu district local government council chairman, told IJT. He criticized the government’s development plans for war-affected northern regions, which, since September 2007, have focused on infrastructure, “leaving [aside] the needs of the victims”.

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