The International Criminal Court (ICC) has dismissed a petition which was filed by a group of Ugandans led by FDC’s Col Dr Kizza Besigye calling for the prosecution top government military officials for their hand the deaths of dozens of Ugandans during the November 2016 raid by the UPDF on the palace of the Rwenzururu king in Kasese district.
Besigye together with Kampala Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago and other opposition leaders sought to drag the Ugandan government to The Hague based tribunal on allegations of genocide and other crimes against humanity.
The ICC’s Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) last month acknowledged receipt to the petition and promised to look into it and decide whether or not to take the matter up.
However, after scrutinizing the claims, Office says it found that the facts presented did not satisfy the contextual elements of the crime of genocide, under article 6 of the (Rome) Statute.
The UPDF raid on the king’s palace in 2016 was reportedly prompted by an earlier attack by some of the king’s guard on six police posts with machetes, several kilometres from Kasese town, which resulted in at least 14 police constables being killed by the assailants
According to the ICC findings, the UPDF under the command of then-Brigadier General Peter Elwelu surrounded the kingdom’s palace compound in Kasese town and arrested King Charlese Mumbere.
The security forces then stormed the palace compound and killed over 100 people and another 150-200 people were subsequently arrested and kept in detention pending trial.
While the ICC prosecutor’s office says it found credible information that multiple killings were committed by Ugandan security forces, the acts didn’t meet the required threshold of intensity and organisation, and could not be appropriately considered within the framework of article 8 of the Statute as a non-international armed conflict.
“The alleged conduct also did not satisfy the contextual elements of the crime of genocide, under article 6 of the Statute. Accordingly, the Office has undertaken its analysis within the framework of alleged crimes against humanity, under article 7 of the Statute,” the report says.
“The Office observes that the operation appears to have been aimed at dismantling the Royal Guards, who are understood to have undertaken certain security-like functions on behalf of the king and were armed with instruments such as machetes. The Office is also aware that some members of the Royal Guards are alleged by the Uganda authorities to have been members of the Kirumiramutima militia, which
the authorities assessed as an increasingly regional security threat.”
The report adds, “The actions of the security forces had to be conducted within a law enforcement paradigm, which requires that the use of lethal force be restricted to those situations where it is “strictly unavoidable” to protect life.”