Press Notice 54, Session 2006-07

PUBLICATION OF NEW REPORT

PEACE IN NORTHERN UGANDA IS WITHIN REACH-INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT HAS A CRUCIAL ROLE TO PLAY

Commons International Development Committee

The prospects for peace in Uganda after a 20-year conflict between the Government of Uganda and the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) are much better now than they have been for years, with significant progress being made through the Juba peace talks says a report published today by the Commons International Development Committee.

The Chairman of the Committee, Rt Hon Malcolm Bruce said:

"The Juba peace process is welcome and must be supported by the international community. All parties must work towards a negotiated settlement to this longstanding conflict and ensure that a sustainable peace results."

The Committee also gave its support to the International Criminal Court (ICC) which has issued arrest warrants for the leaders of the Lord's Resistance Army for crimes against humanity and war crimes. These warrants have played a crucial role in bringing the LRA to the negotiating table. Commenting on the possibility of allowing Uganda to try the LRA leaders, the Chairman said:

"The ICC has within its remit principles which would allow the Ugandan courts to try the leaders of the LRA according to international standards. If the ICC deems this to be appropriate this should not be seen as detrimental to its credibility. While a successful peace process is the most immediate requirement, the ICC must be given the necessary support by the international community to carry out its mandate according to international law."

The report notes the impact of the conflict on the population in the north of Uganda where poverty levels are high and the achievement of the Millennium Development

Goals has been set back. Children have suffered disproportionately-many have been abducted by the LRA and forced to commit atrocities, others have spent many nights away from home sleeping in night shelters for security. These children will need significant help to integrate back into society. The Committee recommends that the needs of conflict-affected children become a focus of DFID's post-conflict programme in the north.

Malcolm Bruce said:

"Northern Uganda has been economically devastated by the conflict and will need significant resources to achieve the same levels of development as other parts of the country. The international community has a role to play in supporting the Government of Uganda to achieve this important goal."

Notes for Editors

• The conflict in northern Uganda between the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) and the Government of Uganda began in 1986. It is estimated that the LRA has abducted some 25,000 children over this period. In addition 1.7 million people were living in Internally Displaced Person camps when the Committee visited in 2006.

• The international community provides some US$200 million per year in humanitarian assistance to northern Uganda.

• The Government of Uganda referred the LRA to the International Criminal Court in 2004 leading to the ICC issuing warrants for the arrest of five LRA leaders in October 2005.

• The Juba peace talks, brokered by the Government of Southern Sudan, are taking place in Juba. An agreement on the cessation of hostilities has enabled some 800,000 to leave the IDP camps.

• The UK Government has contributed US$480,000 to a US$4.8 million UN managed Juba Initiative Fund for the operational costs of the Cessation of Hostilities Monitoring Team as well as the hire of the venue, food and accommodation for the participants in the peace talks.

For further information on this publication see PN50

Full report.

[ENDS]

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Further Information:

The membership of the Committee is as follows: Malcolm Bruce MP (Chairman, Lib Dem), John Battle MP (Lab), Hugh Bayley MP (Lab), John Bercow MP (Con), Richard Burden MP (Lab), Quentin Davies MP (Lab), James Duddridge MP (Con), Ann McKechin MP (Lab), Joan Ruddock MP (Lab), Mr Marsha Singh MP (Lab), Sir Robert Smith MP (Lib Dem).

Media enquiries should be directed to the Committee media officer, Alex Paterson on 020 7219 1589/07917 488 488 [email protected]

Committee Contact: Anna Dickson, 020 7219 2738, [email protected]

Committee website: www.parliament.uk/indcom

Watch committees and parliamentary debates online: www.parliamentlive.tv