Local Justice for Ugandan Refugees

By Meryl White
Impunity Watch, Africa

The LRA has carried out over 10,000 deaths in Uganda over the past twenty years. In northern Uganda, more than one million people have been displaced by the conflict and have been forced to settle in refugee camps. Furthermore, over 75,000 people have been abducted by LRA forces in the past two decades of insurgency.

The Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebels have initiated a peace deal with the Ugandan government in an attempt to settle a 20-year conflict. These discussions are part of a five-part peace process in attempt to end the civil war. These deals will promote “alternative justice mechanisms” to achieve reconciliation and justice.

Martin Ojul, head of the LRA delegation in Sudan, stated “We signed the agreement on reconciliation and accountability late last night, which moves us one step closer to a final peace agreement.”

Under the deal, the government and the rebels will support the use of the Ugandan justice system to combat human rights abuses. Rebels favor the use of Ugandan courts to protect suspected criminals from international search warrants issued by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, Netherlands. Furthermore, they favor local justice because it less severe and will help to effectuate national reconciliation.

Nevertheless, the ICC has issued arrest warrants against LRA leader Joseph Kony, and his deputy commander Vincent Otti. Moreover, warrants have been issued against two senior rebels for mass murder, mutilation and for the use of child soldiers in the 20-year war.

For more information, please see:

AllAfrica – Uganda: 75,000 LRA Abductees Missing, Says Report – 02 July 2007

Reuters – Uganda, Rebels Agree Local Justice for War Crimes – July 2007

BBC – Uganda Rebels in New Peace Move – 30 June 2007

Yemen Street Children

        The number of street children in Yemen is rising.  It is estimated that from 13,000-15,000 street children work in the capital.  The children work to survive.  The boys are forced to grow up, and provide for their families.  Many times the boys are beaten by their fathers if they do not make a minimum amount of money.  Cultural norms discourage girls from working.

      The boys work for $1 a day.  Their jobs include bus fare collectors, car washers, restaurant workers, market laborers, and street vendors.  For example, a child’s typical day will include purchasing a product, such as a bottle of water or can of soda for a 30 YR, and sell it hours later for a 35-100 YR to a thirsty traveler on the street.  The job is fraught with problems such as customers who take advantage of the children and do not pay for the drinks. 

        The street children are exposed to many diseases because of their living conditions. The diseases include suffer scabies, chicken pox, measles, sore throat, pneumonia, bronchitis, tonsillitis, and meningitis. The diseases spread because the children are in such close proximity with each other, and cannot take sanitary precautions.

        The number of street children exposed to sexual diseases has risen. Statistics show that 90% of street children are sexually abused.  Typically, the boys are either enticed into cars for as little as a dollar or are raped by elder boys, continuing the cycle of abuse. The boys rarely get protection from their aggressors.

        The children are difficult to protect because of their transient nature.  The vulnerable children are exposed to many pressures.  However, the solution is not to ban child workers, since the children are working to provide for themselves and their siblings.

Yemen Times. Leprosy, sexual and skin diseases Yemeni street children at risk. 19 June 2006.
Reuters. YEMEN: Street children at increased risk of sexual abuse. 25 June 2007.
Yemen Times. Yemeni children narrate their sufferings on the street. 18 September 2006.
Yemen Times. Factors affecting Yemeni Children. 28 August 2006