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2011 | United Nations Human Rights, Office of the High Commissioner, Report, “The Dust Has Not Yet Settled”, Victims’ Views on the Right to Remedy and Reparations: A Report from the Greater North of Uganda

This 124 page report is one of the most extensive documents specifically on victims’ views on remedies and reparations in Uganda. It was jointly commissioned by the Uganda Human Rights Commission and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. In Chapter 5, it outlines the views and priorities of victims of serious violations of human rights law which resulted from the conflict between the GoU and the LRA. Victims’ top priorities for future transitional justice activities are truth-recovery, acknowledgement of harms, redress and reparation. It finds that victims’ priorities for reparation include: physical and mental health services, education services, assistance to recover housing land and inheritance, rebuilding of livelihoods, empowering of youth, public acknowledgement of harm and apologies, information on the disappeared, and the proper treatment of the dead.

As a means of introduction, Chapter 2 and 3 are interesting for those who are want to know about the right to remedy and reparation under international law and Ugandan law, and the Juba Peace Talks Agreement on Accountability and Reconciliation respectively.

In Chapter 4, the report provides information on the violations that are believed to warrant remedy and reparations. The report sets out in detail the kinds of serious violations people suffered at the hands of the LRA and the UPDF. It also discusses the violence, impoverishment and humiliation suffered as a result of the government’s forced displacement policy where people lived in poorly protected IDP camps. Victims interviewed also pointed at the Government of Sudan, some members of the diaspora, and cattle raiders from the neighbouring Karamoja as responsible for violations and consider they should also be held accountable.

Sadly, the current reality is, as the report concludes, that the vast majority of victims of serious violations are far from realising their right to remedy and reparation. It does not help that only very few people have access to equal and and effective justice and judicial remedy. Further, the GoU has not showed any concerted effort to document, investigate and provide victims with access to relevant information concerning serious violations. There have also not been any fair and impartial justice proceedings or consultations with victims on how to plan for remedy and reparation mechanisms.

In Chapter 6 the report concludes with a number of recommendations that focus on the development, mandate, methodology, beneficiaries, evidentiary standards etc. of a body of inquiry and a reparation programme for the victims of serious violations in the (Greater) North of Uganda.

What could be considered lacking in this report is some regard for Uganda’s wider history of conflict. In its discussion of the scope of a body of inquiry and reparations programme it only considers the victims of the war in the north of Uganda. A body of inquiry or reparations programme that is limited to northern Uganda would leave out many victims of conflict-related harm in other parts of Uganda and do little in reconciling the nation.