Multilayered Justice in Northern Uganda: ICC Intervention and Local Procedures of Accountability

in International Criminal Law Review
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In an effort to redress the effects of the civil war in Northern Uganda, local, state and international officials have begun to study the feasibility of re-adapting the procedures of local justice, including mato oput, a local procedure practiced by the Acholi tribe. This article examines this evolving multilayered project of justice in Northern Uganda. It addresses two features of this model: (1) the central features of local justice, in particular mato oput, and (2) the complementary relationship between mato oput, the state, and the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) victims’ unit and the victims’ trust fund. It argues that closer and more effective ties between the ICC and local procedures of justice can be developed. Not only does this relationship constitute an evolving framework for addressing the political realities of ICC intervention, but it also raises many important practical implications for reaching out to the local population.

Multilayered Justice in Northern Uganda: ICC Intervention and Local Procedures of Accountability

in International Criminal Law Review




Adam Branch“Uganda’s Civil War and the Politics of ICC Intervention,” Ethics and International Affairs 21(2)(2007).The ICC it should be noted does not accept any blanket amnesties and has refused to comply with the demands for dropping the indictments even though the national government implemented an amnesty law national amnesty law in 2000 to allow perpetrators to confess their guilt in exchange for amnesty.


Erin K. Baines“The Haunting of Alice: Local Approaches to Justice and Reconciliation in Northern Uganda,” The International Journal of Transitional JusticeVol. 1(2007): 91-114; See also Ketyy Anyeko Erin Baines Emon Komakech Boniface Ojok Lino Owor Ogora and Letha Victor ‘The Cooling of the Hearts’: Community Truth-Telling in Northern Uganda Human Rights Review 10 (2011).


 See Martha MinowBetween Vengeance and Forgiveness (Boston, MA: Beacon Press2007) p. 22. On this point see also Ruti Teitel’s normative analysis of the false dichotomy between universalism and particularism. Ruti Teitel Transitional Justice (Oxford: Oxford University Press 1999).


 See Alexander Greenawalt“Complementarity in Crisis”Virginia Journal of International Law50(1)(2009): 131-134. In the 2009 Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) report for example Moreno-Ocampo stated that the ICC’s complementarity principle “does not exclude alternative forms of justice.”


 See Markus T. FunkVictims Rights and Advocacy at the International Criminal Court (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press2009). It is important as already noted that we not overstate the results of the developing link between these legal mechanisms. After all the victims’ program and outreach are nascent features of the ICC. As such the practical link between the ICC restorative mechanism and traditional justice mechanism needs to be addressed on a case-by-case basis.


Cecily Rose“Looking beyond Amnesty and Traditional Justice and Reconciliation Mechanisms in Northern Uganda: A Proposal for Truth-telling and Reparations,” Boston College Third World Law Journal 28(2): 546 and 547.


Patrick Vinck and Phuong N. Pham“Outreach Evaluation: The International Criminal Court in the Central African Republic,” The International Journal of Transitional Justice 4 (3)(2010) p. 442.


Elaine Baylis“Reassessing the Role of International Criminal Law: Rebuilding National Court through Transitional Networks,” Boston College Review 50(1)(2009) p. 52.


Marlies Glasius“What Is Global Justice and Who Decides? Civil Society and Victim Responses to the International Criminal Court’s First Investigations,” Human Rights Quarterly 31(2)(2009) p. 519.


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