Ugandan victims’ hopes for justice dashed again, with announcement of further delays to the signing of Juba Peace Agreement

The long-awaited signing of the Juba Peace Agreement between the Government of Uganda and the Lords Resistance Army (LRA) has been delayed yet again, with LRA rebel leader Joseph Kony asking for further discussions at the eleventh hour. In response, the Uganda Victims Rights’ Working Group (U-VRWG) has today released its Statement on the Agreement’s unique opportunity to obtain justice for the victims of the conflict’s most serious human rights crimes and urges both parties to sign the Peace Agreement.

The U-VRWG has applauded the efforts of the Government and LRA in concluding the Annex to the Juba Accountability and Reconciliation Agreement. However, U-VRWG Co-ordinator, Chris Ongom, also expressed the Group’s concerns, ‘For the Agreement to achieve lasting and meaningful peace, it is imperative that the Government ensures that the victims of the conflict’s most serious human rights crimes, have full access to justice and redress, as recognised by international standards.’

In the U-VRWG’s Statement on the Annex to the Accountability and Reconciliation Agreement, the U-VRWG praised the efforts of the Government and the LRA to ensure justice, accountability and reconciliation. ‘The U-VRWG fully supports all efforts for a peaceful resolution to the conflict in northern Uganda’, Ongom said, ‘However, the Group has several serious concerns regarding the remit of the proposed Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the appropriateness of traditional justice mechanisms and the capacity of a new Special Division of the High Court to bring meaningful justice and reparations to victims.’

The U-VRWG Statement draws attention to the lack of experience and capacity of the High Court of Uganda to investigate and prosecute suspects of serious crimes, and in particular, to ensure victims’ protection. Several of the U-VRWG’s other concerns relate to traditional justice mechanisms, which in their present form are insensitive to human rights concerns and are gender biased. One member of the Group, for example, expressed their concern that ‘considering the crimes suffered by women and youth, particularly child soldiers and the girls who were abducted, traditional justice committees should have better representation of women and youth.’

Ongom said, ‘We call on both the Government and the LRA to take on board victims’ views and the recommendations as laid out in the U-VRWG’s Statement.’


Formed in 2006, the Uganda Victims’ Rights Working Group (U-VRWG) is a loose coalition of over 30 human rights and civil society NGOs in Uganda working with victims and on victims’ rights issues. The members of the U-VRWG, met in Soroti, northern Uganda from 12-14 March 2008 to consider the Annex of the Juba Agreement on Accountability and Reconciliation. For the full U-VRWG ‘Statement on the Annexure on the Juba Agreement on Accountability and Reconciliation’ see:


For further information, contact:

U-VRWG:             Lira – Chris Ongom onc[email protected] +256 782 499532 Kampala – Joseph Akwenyu [email protected]

REDRESS:          London – Mariana Goetz [email protected] +44 (0)207 793 1777