Human rights lawyer Nicholas Opiyo has said Dr Kizza Besigye’s self-styled People’s Government has a tough job to prove to the International Crimes Court (ICC) that President Museveni and his government committed crimes against humanity.
Dr Besigye has launched a petition, seeking to collect two million signatures from Ugandans that he will present to ICC as part of his evidence indicating that Mr Museveni and senior government officials committed the crimes against humanity.
But Mr Opiyo says signatures are not enough.
“I think the People’s Government has a very difficult job to rise to the standards of admissibility of the ICC court. The procedure for triggering ICC processes are different,” he says.
“The ICC isn’t a court for petty crimes, they can only investigate cases of grave international violations. It’s a very high threshold. If you don’t have grounds to prove that the case is grave, it might be hard for the court to investigate your case,” he adds.
The lawyers insists that whereas there are facts of hideous crimes committed by Mr Museveni, the difficulty is in proving the systematic happenings of all this.
“There are no denying facts of hideous crimes committed by President Museveni but the difficulty is in proving the systematic happenings of all this. You must prove that the state is unwilling to genuinely prosecute these crimes. And in this case, the state will argue that they’ve established institutions and systems independent to handle such cases. Once they make that argument, it makes the work of People’s government more difficult,” he says.
But Kampala Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago, who is the vice president of the People’s Government, insists that they have enough grounds to petition ICC on indicting Museveni.
“The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court clearly defines the cases one can be indicted on. President Museveni and his government can be indicted on all of them but we’re focusing on only one. Crimes against humanity which is the most common offence. We’ve got sufficient evidence to show that this gross violation of human rights is systematic. You can’t tell me we have a president who has been in power for 33 years and has never violated human rights. We’re seeking the intervention of the ICC because Museveni enjoys immunity in the country. We’ve undertaken this process for a very long period. The people’s government said 2019 will be a year of action,” he adds.