Institute for War and Peace Reporting | Giving Voice, Driving Change

ICC/Africa: Jan '07

Regional trip results in significant expansion of IWPR team of reporters.

The project expanded and consolidated its network of correspondents during a two-week trip to Uganda by ICC/Africa Editor Peter Eichstaedt.

Eichstaedt spent 16 days in Uganda, which included a week-long trip to northern Uganda, where he met and worked with eight existing contributors, as well as four new ones.

During the trip, he conducted a two-day training session in Arua, in the West Nile district, with a journalist based in Juba, South Sudan who traveled to the session by bus.

A similar training session was held in Kampala for a new contributor - a veteran journalist from Khartoum - who will assist in arranging and coordinating future stories and IWPR seminars in Khartoum, Nyala, El Fasher, and Geneina.

Eichstaedt also met IWPR-Africa contributor Henry Wasswa to discuss story ideas for the coming year. Wasswa is particularly interested in working on “story behind the story” pieces, because as a freelancer he is often asked to focus simply on breaking news.

On December 3, Eichstaedt met correspondents Joe Wacha and Julius Ochen in the northern Uganda town of Lira to discuss stories and future projects.

The following day, the three traveled to a former LRA stronghold north of Pader and met refugees and conducted interviews on problems they face upon returning to their home villages.

Some recently resettled refugees, who were building new thatched-roof houses, spoke to them about the prospect for peace and their attitudes to international justice.

The group also visited the infamous Barlonyo refugee camp - the site of the LRA’s most bloody massacre, in which an estimated 300 civilians were killed.

That evening, Eichstaedt discussed with IWPR contributors Patrick Okino and Bill Oketch the need for original and in-depth stories. The two agreed to work jointly on a story examining Uganda’s ability to put rebel leader Joseph Kony on trial and another about returning rebels who have been rejected by the community, despite amnesty.

The next morning, Eichstaedt traveled to Gulu where he met new contributor Caroline Auygi, and discussed stories focusing on women’s issues relating to LRA abductees.

The following day, Ayugi and local journalist Columbus Onoo, a potential contributor, visited rebel peace negotiator Yusef Adek, who granted them an exclusive and lengthy interview about the on-going peace talks, traditional justice, and the possibilities of a peace deal. Ayugi used this material for her story on the justice component of the peace talks, which has become secondary to reconciliation.

In the afternoon, the journalists went to the Pabbo refugee camp, about an hour north of Gulu, also in the heart of former rebel country, where they met camp officials. There, they found out about refugee attitudes toward justice for Kony.

They were then guided to a village about 10 kilometres in the bush, where they interviewed villagers about the peace talks, justice and their desire to resettle their homes.

On December 7, Eichstaedt returned to Arua, where he met with contributor David Rupiny and South Sudan correspondent Hamid Taban of Juba.

The next two days were spent discussing the ICC with the contributors and stressing the necessity of producing stories related to issues of international justice. Taban is very knowledgeable about the subject, particularly issues relating to South Sudan, and as such is ideally situated to contribute pieces.

At the time, the highly splintered rebel groups from the troubled Darfur region were meeting in Juba to try and forge a unified front. Among the future stories discussed were a piece on the role of the oil-rich Abyei region in Sudan, and another on South Sudan’s march toward independence.

That evening, Eichstaedt met Rupiny again, to talk about his pending trip to Ituri to research the Lubanga trial.

On December 10, the editor discussed a story at length with new contributor Emmanuel Mutaizibwa, a veteran political reporter, who currently works for Nation Media Group’s independent television station in Kampala, NTV.

December 12 included a meeting with officials from the office of the Special UN Envoy to the LRA-affected regions in eastern Africa, which is deeply involved in the LRA and Ugandan peace talks to discuss IWPR coverage of the peace process.

The next two days were spent with Sudan journalist Azhari Dafalla, discussing the work of the ICC in Sudan, potential stories for IWPR and future seminars on the ICC and international justice to be held in Khartoum and other cities.

On December 15, Eichstaedt met political editor at The Daily Monitor Charles Mwanguyha, who has agreed to contribute stories to IWPR Africa.

In addition to the numerous training sessions conducted, the trip resulted in a flood of stories which were published before and shortly after the festive break.

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