ICJ extends date for Uganda, Congo to file papers

Saturday January 23 2016

By KENNEDY SENELWA

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) has given Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo up to April 28 to file written pleadings on their reparation feud.

In a case concerning armed activities on DRC territory by Uganda, the two countries have failed to agree on the amount of money each is required to pay the other despite the conclusion on December 19, 2005 of a legal battle that started in 1999 and was heard by the ICJ.

The dispute arose after Uganda sent soldiers into DRC in the 1990s. The soldiers were accused of engaging in illegal exploitation of minerals, harvesting of timber and human-rights abuses.

On June 23, 1999, DRC instituted the proceedings against Uganda concerning acts of armed aggression that violated the United Nations Charter and the Charter of the Organisation of African Unity, the predecessor of the African Union.

ICJ president Ronny Abraham said in an order issued on December 10, 2015, that the principal judicial organ of the UN granted the extension for filling upon being requested by DRC through a letter dated November 16.

“The subsequent procedure has been reserved for further decision,” he said.

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The court’s registry at The Hague received the letter from DRC Justice and Human Rights Minister Alexis Thambwe on November 23, 2015.

In December, DRC asked for an extension of the deadline for filing written memorial to late April or mid May — a request Uganda did not object to.

The ICJ judgment of 2005 found Uganda under obligation to make reparation to DRC for violation of human rights and the principle of non-use of force.

The presence of Uganda Peoples’ Defence Forces (UPDF) in DRC from the 1990s to June 2003 sparked accusations of soldiers destroying property, killing or injuring Congolese and illegally exploiting natural resources.

On the other hand, DRC was found to be under an obligation to make reparation to Uganda for the injury caused by the country’s violation of obligations incumbent upon it under the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.

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