Thursday, November 6, 2014

Military trials of civilians continue in Uganda

Human Rights Watch reports here on the continued use of military courts to try civilians in Uganda:
Military prosecutors charged over 170 Bakonzo suspects with a range of offenses before the military courts. One lawyer who attended the court martial sessions in Kasese expressed concern that civilians are appearing before a military court. The lawyer told Human Rights Watch that some witnesses are recanting earlier statements and that translations for suspects appear to be unreliable.
The trial of civilians by the military court violates international treaties to which Uganda is party. In 2009, the African Commission called on Uganda to “[i]ntroduce legal measures that prohibit the trial of civilians by Military Courts.” Uganda’s military has repeatedly promised to end trials of civilians before the military courts, but has not done so. No one from other ethnic groups is being prosecuted for reprisals committed against the Bakonzo.
An activist who has also been attending the military tribunal proceedings told Human Rights Watch: “When you look at the court martials in both Kasese and Bundibugyo it appears like one tribe is being tried. It is ugly.... It is entrenching hatred.... I don’t think this is justice. It is a kangaroo court.”
“Prosecuting civilians in military courts has been a matter of convenience and expediency for President [Yoweri] Museveni’s government for decades,” [HRW researcher Maria] Burnett said. “But it is unjust and unlawful under both international law and regional human rights treaties.”

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