By Uganda Media Correspondent
The International Court of Justice has ordered Uganda to pay $325 million (UGX.1145707875000) one trillion one hundred forty-five billion seven hundred seven million eight hundred seventy-five thousand in reparations for crimes committed during its invasion of the Democratic Republic of Congo more than two decades ago.
The decision resolves a legal dispute that began in 1999 when Congo filed suit against Uganda for its occupation of part of the Central African country.
The reparations cover $225 million for damage to people, $40 million for damage to property, and $60 million for damage to natural resources, according to the court’s ruling read out by its president, Judge Joan Donoghue, in a broadcast from The Hague, where the court is based. It should be paid in five annual installments of $65m beginning on Sept. 1 this year, and any late payments will accrue 6% interest, she said.
Uganda and neighboring Rwanda invaded Congo in 1998 after the two countries fell out with Congo’s then-president, Laurent Desire Kabila, who they’d previously supported in his rebellion against dictator Mobutu Sese Seko.
The war eventually engulfed several other African nations, left millions dead, and sparked conflicts in eastern Congo that persist today despite an official end to the hostilities in 2003.
Kabila was assassinated in 2001 and replaced by his son, Joseph, who led the country for 18 years
In a 2005 decision, the ICJ ruled that Uganda committed violations of international law in Congo, including killing, torture, looting, and plunder.
It also said Congo’s army violated the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations by attacking the Ugandan embassy and mistreating its diplomats in the capital, Kinshasa, during the war. Since that ruling, the two governments could not come to an agreement on reparations and Congo requested the ICJ’s intervention.
In April 2021, Congo asked the court to order Uganda to pay it nearly $11.5 billion-plus costs and interest, with $982,797.73 deducted for the embassy attack. Uganda rejected all Congo’s claims, which it said did not “prove the exact injury that was suffered as a result of specific actions of Uganda.”
The decision comes at a sensitive time for the two countries. Last year, Uganda sent troops into Congo to fight an Islamist rebel group known as the Allied Democratic Forces that has roots in Uganda and bombed the capital, Kampala, in November, killing 7 and injuring dozens. While Congo agreed to the operation, the incursion has been politically complicated for presidents Felix Tshisekedi of Congo and Yoweri Museveni of Uganda.
The ADF is responsible for more than 2,200 deaths in Congo since 2017, according to the Kivu Security Tracker, a joint project of Human Rights Watch and New York University’s Congo Research Group.
The ICJ’s 15 judges are elected by the United Nations General Assembly and Security Council, and its judgments are binding and can’t be appealed, according to its website.
Uganda’s government will study the judgment before making a statement, Attorney General Kiryowa Kiwanuka said.
The case is Armed Activities on the Territory of the Congo (the Democratic Republic of the Congo v. Uganda)