Debarati Guha-Sapir, the Director of Center for Research on the Epidemiology of Disaster (CRED) and a Professor at University of Louvain School of Public Health, in Brussels has urged International Court of Justice -ICJ to ignore argument by Uganda that Democratic Republic of Congo must produce evidence such as death certificates in its claim for compensation.
A UN expert Debarati Guha-Sapir, has asked the
International Court of Justice to ignore demands by Uganda that DRC must produce evidence like death certificates to prove that its citizens died when the UPDF was deployed
in Ituri almost 23 years ago.
The UPDF was
between 1998-2003 deployed in DRC’s Ituri province to pursue Ugandan insurgents allegedly
operating from there.
DRC however dragged Uganda to the International Court of
Justice accusing it of having invaded its territory, caused deaths of its citizens
and looted minerals. DRC alleged that 180,000 of its civilian died due to
wrongful acts attributable to Uganda.
It said 40,000 of those deaths resulted from
“deliberate acts of violence” against the population in Ituri, while another
140,000 resulted from “situations other than those of deliberate acts of
violence” in Ituri, Kisangani and elsewhere.
For each of these 40,000 deaths, the DRC claims US$34,000 per victim. For
each of the other 140,000 alleged deaths, the DRC claims just over US$18,900
The Attorney General, William Byaruhanga and a hired
international lawyer, Sean Murphy while representing Uganda the DRC in filing
the claims doesn’t adduce evidence which should ordinarily be available even in
times of war.
Uganda also insists that DRC must provide indisputable
evidence such as death certificates showing that Uganda soldiers were
responsible for these deaths.
But Debarati Guha-Sapir, whose report was relied on by DRC to demand
compensation, told ICJ on Friday that in conflict areas, recording death
certificates is near to impossible. She argued that at the time of war, institutions
that record death were non-existent.
Guha-Sapir, a Professor at University of Louvain School of Public Health
told court that at the time in contention there were no incentives
for people to go and record death because it would bring “no benefit.”
//Cue in: “anybody who has…
Cue out:…of any data.”//
Guha-Sapir, the Director of Center for Research on the Epidemiology of
Disaster (CRED) has been involved in several Epidemiology surveys around Africa
including deaths in the Ituri province.
Lawrence Martin, one of the many lawyers representing Uganda told court on
Thursday: “None of these figures ⎯ whether those relating to the
alleged number of deaths or the quantum of compensation sought ⎯
is supported by any evidence; the DRC’s claims concerning the number of deaths
Uganda allegedly caused are, with respect, a house of conjecture built atop a
foundation of speculation.”
Sean Murphy, a Professor of International Law at George Washington
University Law School, is representing Uganda argued that DRC based its
compensation claim on broad observations made by the court in 2005 when it
ruled that Uganda armed forces violated human right law which caused harm to
persons and property as well as a broad conclusion that there was the
exploitation of DRC’s natural resources.
“That assertion about the inability to gather evidence relating to war is
demonstrably untrue. Iraq’s invasion and occupation of Kuwait did not prevent
victims or their families from identifying to the UN compensation commission
the names of those who died.” He said
The ICJ on Tuesday reopened the proceedings of the 2005 case Uganda lost
to Congo after the two countries failed to agree on compensation figure. Uganda,
Rwanda and Burundi soldiers helped DRC’s late President Laurent Kabila ascend
to power in 1997, overthrowing dictator Mobutu Sese Seko Kuku Ngbendu Wa Za
As Kabila settled in office, he disagreed with the foreign forces that helped
him capture power. Consequently, he asked them to leave. When Uganda and
Rwanda declined to withdraw, Kabila sued them at the ICJ for alleged
invasion. Uganda argued that its military's presence and activities in
DRC were, for the most part, based on an invitation and were authorized by the
When Uganda lost the case in 2005, DRC’s lawyers argued for a reparation figure
of US$10 billion which was awarded. However, the court asked the two parties to
get together and come up with a figure that is agreeable to both because Uganda
protested the claims.
Unclear is when and how Congo ended claiming $23 billion which it has now
reduced to $13.5 billion as per Byaruhanga’s presentation.