Accountability for Forced Displacement in Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda Before the International Criminal Court
African Journal of International Criminal Justice (Forthcoming)
27 Pages Posted: 23 Jan 2016 Last revised: 16 Sep 2016
Date Written: December 21, 2015
The International Criminal Court (ICC) is established to investigate, prosecute and punish the ‘most serious crimes of concern to the international community as a whole.' In the first few cases before the ICC, the Court has concentrated on use of child soldiers in Democratic Republic of Congo and Northern Uganda, genocide in Darfur, and political violence surrounding elections in Kenya and Ivory Coast. These more obvious and legally defined crimes have grabbed the world’s attention and suited Western criminal justice responses. However, perhaps more endemic, but problematic in terms of establishing criminal responsibility, is forced displacement. While forced displacement is secondary to more traditional international crimes, such as mass murder and rape, its ripple effects on communities and perpetrators intent to displace rival ethnic communities, causes widespread victimisation, suggesting its egregious nature should be of greater international concern. This article examines the challenges of investigating and prosecuting forced displacement in the Central African countries of Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda, where higher loss of life was caused by forced displacement, than by any other. In the Democratic Republic of Congo armed groups intentionally attacked civilian populations displacing them from their homes, to cut them off from food and medical supplies. In Northern Uganda the government engaged in a forced displacement policy as part of its counter-insurgency against the Lord’s Resistance Army, driving the civilian population in ‘protected villages,’ where at one point the weekly death toll was over 1,000 in these camps. This article critically evaluates how criminal responsibility can be established for forced displacement and alternative approaches to accountability through reparations.
Keywords: International Criminal Court; victims; forced displacement, reparations
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