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Uganda Agree to Making Public Experts Report in Congo Case

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Though Uganda had objected to release of reports at the start of oral proceedings, Attorney General William Byaruhanga withdrew the objection on Wednesday last week. The court held two weeks of oral proceedings that ended on Friday.
Uganda Attorney General William Byaruhanga making submissions at ICJ last week
 

Uganda has withdrawn its objection to making public expert reports in the Democratic Republic of Congo case which Hague based International Court of Justice (ICJ) resumed oral hearings on April 20th 2021.  

Though Uganda had objected to release of reports at the start of oral proceedings, Attorney General William Byaruhanga withdrew the objection on Wednesday last week. The court held two weeks of oral proceedings that ended on Friday.   

“I have the honour to further inform court that Uganda hereby withdraws its objection and consent to the reports of the court appointed experts and related documents being made accessible to public,” Byaruhanga wrote on Wednesday.  

The ICJ appointed four appointed to write reports that will likely be based on when judges make judgment. The experts are; Ms Debarati Guha-Sapir, a Professor of Public Health at the University of Louvain (Belgium) and Director of the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters; Mr. Michael Nest, Environmental Governance Advisor for the European Union’s Accountability, Rule of Law and Anti-corruption Programme in Ghana and former conflict minerals analyst for United States Agency for International Development in Great Lakes Region; Mr. Geoffrey Senogles, a Partner at Senogles & Co., a Chartered Accountants Firm in Switzerland and Mr. Henrik Urda, a Research Professor and Director of the Peace Research Institute Oslo (Norway).   

Though the reports had not been made public, lawyers representing Uganda were arguing that experts had not produced compelling evidence. They also argued that the lawyers for Congo were also heavily relying on these reports to demand compensation.   

For instance, Guha-Sapir urged judges to reject Uganda’s argument that DR Congo should produce death certificates of people it claims were killed by Ugandan soldiers during the 1997-2003 war.  

She argued that institutions registering deaths were non-existent in Eastern DRC during the war and there were no incentives for people to obtain certificates for dead relatives. “So, I think it cannot go without saying that death certificates or civil registration is not going to be a source of any data,” said Sapir.   

Referring to Sean Murphy—one of the lawyers representing Uganda who was questioning lack of death certificates, Sapir said it could be possible to collect death certificates of hundreds of dead people in Washington (where Murphy lives), but in Congo, it’s impossible. Thus, he said Uganda’s demands are unrealistic.     

According to documents DR Congo submitted, it claims that about 180,000 of its civilians 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 DR Congo claims US$34,000 per victim. For each of the other 140,000 alleged deaths, the DR Congo claims just over US$18,900 per victim.   

And Geoffrey Senogles, one of the court appointed experts suggested a figure ($30,000) that is close to what DR Congo is demanding for each of its citizens it claim died due to “deliberate acts of violence” by Uganda soldiers.   

       

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