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Uganda has withdrawn its objection to making public expert reports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
“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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
acts of violence” by Uganda soldiers.