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No selective justice for northern Uganda war crimes: ICC official

The International Criminal Court (ICC) will indict more individuals who committed war crimes against the civilian population in northern Uganda during the two decade insurgency of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), a top court official has said.

"There will be no selective justice for trials into war crimes committed in northern Uganda," said Sang-Hyun Song, the ICC President who made the remarks at a consultative dialogue meeting with LRA war victims in Gulu, northern Uganda, on Saturday.

The remark follows concern by war victims that the ICC has tended to be one-sided in indicting rebel commanders yet government soldiers committed as well similar crimes in northern Uganda.

"Those who committed war crimes will face justice. The ICC arrest warrant is a life time order; we are waiting," he added.

Alex Odongo one of the war victims requested the court conduct fresh investigation as previous one in 2005 was unfair.

"By then people were living in fear in IDP camps, so the war affected communities could not give full account of crimes committed against them for fear of their life," Odongo said.

Song urged northern Uganda communities to come out with evidence for anyone involved in the war crimes and the court will institute an investigation and try the offenders.

"I share frustration of many war victims in northern Uganda, all who commit crime should be held responsible, this is the full answer to your peace and justice', he said.

Meanwhile, non-governmental organizations in Gulu, the epicenter of LRA's prolonged and brutal insurgency, called for the adoption of a full transitional justice process backed by legislation.

Charles Tolit Atiya, the coordinator of Northern Uganda Transitional Justice Working Group (NUTJWG), said the detachment of the court from the midst of the communities has reinforced the doubt in the court's ability to address the situation in northern Uganda.

"We remain skeptical to the government's willingness to pursue justice with fairness to its logical conclusion," he said.

LRA's insurgency has left tens of thousands of people dead and some two million internally displaced in northern Uganda. Five of the group's top commanders were indicted by the ICC in 2005 and wanted by the Interpol since 2006.

[Source: Xinhua, Gulu, Uganda, 30May10]

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