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International Justice/ICC: March - August 2008

By IWPR


International Justice/ICC Project Review: March - August '08


IWPR fraud probe prompts demonstration


“Demonstrators
felt the reports published on IWPR website on rebuilding
the war-ravaged region of northern Uganda were factual and
accurate,” said Lira district information officer
Joe Erem Oyie.
In early August, an IWPR special investigation
into suspected corruption relating to a long-running reconstruction
project in war-torn northern Uganda sparked a demonstration
in the town of Lira.




On August 23, over 200 people came together to protest the
alleged misappropriation of money from the Northern Uganda
Social Action Fund, NUSAF – a government agency responsible
for managing projects to rebuild the north.



The fraud allegations, which had already prompted a criminal
investigation, were the subject of the IWPR story, Northern
Aid Programme Probed, written by Bill Oketch and Patrick
Okino in Lira, and published on August 13. The project has
since published two follow-up stories.




Demonstrators called for Lira district chairman Franco Ojur
to be sacked. Police suspect the official of involvement
in one of the cases under investigation. He denies the allegations.



Lira district information officer Joe Erem Oyie said demonstrators
acted after hearing about IWPR’s stories.



“Demonstrators felt the reports published on IWPR
website on rebuilding the war-ravaged region of northern
Uganda were factual and accurate,” said Oyie.



Okino said Lira resident district commissioner Joan Pacoto
told him that the IWPR corruption stories had helped in
the fraud investigation.




NUSAF distributed mainly World Bank money to pay for the
redevelopment of the north of the country following a 20-year
civil war between Kampala and the rebel Lord’s Resistance
Army, LRA.



Hundreds of local community projects requested support,
and selected their own local project leaders.



Some 24 suspects have been arrested in Lira, including Ojur,
and others in Gulu.



The World Bank sent a copy of IWPR’s first report
on the fraud allegations to investigators of the Inspector
General of Government, IGG – a government agency tasked
with eliminating corruption and abuse of office. IGG officials
immediately launched an inquiry based on the article.
 



International Justice/ICC Project Review: March - August '08


Corruption reports result of IWPR training


The
series of stories on the alleged corruption sabotaging the
redevelopment of the north were produced by journalists
who had just attended an IWPR investigative reporting seminar
in Uganda.



From June 9 to 13, IWPR Africa editor Peter Eichstaedt held
workshops in investigative reporting techniques in Lira
and Gulu.



These sessions – which covered the topics of health,
education, agriculture and the economy – were held
to prepare journalists to produce investigative reports
on the reconstruction of northern Uganda.



At an investigative reporting
seminar in Uganda, IWPR Africa editor Peter Eichstaedt gave
reporters the tools they need to produce sound investigative
pieces.
The reporters were given the tools they need
to produce sound investigative pieces.



“When you are handling a story, your story should
not be one-sided,” Eichstaedt told them. “Talk
to many sources, including the accused. Don’t put
your own opinion into a story. Separate facts from opinion,
write facts and verify information.”



Eichstaedt also told journalists to back up stories with
statistics and interview experts, government officials and
NGOs to find out what is being done to address specific
problems.



As
well as the corruption series, the training resulted in
a comprehensive set of reports, published in August, which
dealt with topics ranging from AIDS and education to the
psychological trauma caused by war.



The following month, Oketch, who took part in the training,
was commended by BBC World Service Trust with a communicating
transitional justice in Africa award for two stories he
wrote for IWPR this year. The stories were Corruption Blights
Rebuilding Efforts, published on May 29, and Food Crisis
Hits North from June 4.
 



International Justice/ICC Project Review: March - August '08


Project covers reaction to request for
al-Bashir indictment


In July, IWPR Hague-based staff
worked with trainees in Khartoum to give local reaction
to the ICC prosecution request to issue an arrest warrant
against Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir.



ICC
chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo asked judges at the
court to issue a warrant against al-Bashir for allegedly
committing genocide and for crimes against humanity.



This followed months of speculation, which began after he
told the United Nations Security Council that Sudan’s
entire state apparatus was being used to destroy Fur, Zaghawa
and Masalit communities.



The trainees on the ground revealed that the government
was organising rallies in response to the likely arrest
warrant, with members of al-Bashir’s ruling National
Congress Party coming out to join the demonstrations.



They added that the practice of censoring independent newspapers
had also been tightened since the prosecutor’s announcement.



IWPR trainees in Khartoum revealed
that authorities there sought to engineer protests against
likely ICC indictment of the Sudanese president.
IWPR
journalists also called contacts living in camps for displaced
persons near Al-Fashir and Nyala for their reaction. Although
they welcomed the prosecutor’s announcement, they
told IWPR the situation on the ground could get worse if
the UN peacekeeping force in war-torn Darfur remained powerless
to fully protect internally displaced civilians.



They pointed out that while indictments are being considered
at the ICC in The Hague, violence continues each day in
the region.



The team also spoke to UNAMID representatives in the region
to confirm accounts that non-essential UN staff were being
withdrawn for fear of retributive attacks against peacekeepers.
 



International Justice/ICC Project Review: March - August '08


IWPR to produce new international justice
radio show for DRC


“It
is very important to give out correct information to establish
the impartiality of the ICC in the eyes of the Congolese,
because it is not evident that it has that credibility,”
said Lena Slachmuijlder, director of Search for Common Ground
in the DRC.
In June, the ICC project announced plans
to produce a fortnightly radio show – Facing
Justice
– to be broadcast across DRC.



The 15-minute programme – a joint production with
the NGO Search for Common Ground – will be broadcast
in Lingala, Swahili and French twice a week throughout the
country.



Clips of the show will also be placed on the IWPR website
to increase people’s access to the material.



The
team thought up the show after they went to Uganda, Sudan
and the DRC to network with journalists and editors. Visiting
these countries confirmed that radio was a highly effective
medium for disseminating information.



Facing Justice will contain contributions from Hague-based
staff, IWPR-trained journalists in DRC, legal experts, political
analysts, human rights activists and government representatives.
Search for Common Ground staff, meanwhile, plan to monitor
listeners and establish focus groups to gauge the show’s
impact in the country.



The launch of the show was planned to coincide with the
start of the trial of Congolese war crimes suspect Thomas
Lubanga on June 23. However, the case against Lubanga is
now uncertain after judges ruled on June 13 that prosecutors
had abused the rules of collecting evidence, making a fair
trial impossible.



Lena
Slachmuijlder, director of Search for Common Ground in the
DRC, said the programme is important because information
on ICC proceedings is limited in the country.



“It is very important to give out correct information
to establish the impartiality of the ICC in the eyes of
the Congolese, because it is not evident that it has that
credibility,” she said.



“The collaboration with IWPR will help us bring out
credible voices from the ICC to give information to the
people in a regular way, so they can understand what is
happening with the trial, and what the constraints and opportunities
are with international justice,” she said.
 



International Justice/ICC Project Review: March - August '08


Project trip to Khartoum


Head of
the National Press Council Professor Ali Shumo said IWPR’s
training could lead help improve journalistic practices
in the country.
In early June, ICC staff Lisa Clifford
and Katy Glassborow travelled to Khartoum as part of a needs-assessment
exercise, in advance of a training programme tentatively
scheduled for this November.




During their week-long trip, the journalists met a number
of media workers and NGO representatives, who told them
that they were keen to learn new technical skills.



“We have different values in the Islamic world, but
want to learn how to be accurate and fair and use new technologies,”
said Dr Muheddin Titawi, chairman of the Journalists Union.



“Journalism needs to go
back to fundamentals, putting aside affiliations,”
said a Sudanese NGO worker.
Professor
Ali Shumo, who heads the National Press Council, which sponsored
the visit, said IWPR’s training could help counter
the widespread practice among journalists of copying and
pasting material from the Internet.



While the editor of a Khartoum-based newspaper said that
training currently available is limited in scope, “It
is too theoretical. We lack the practical, professional
way of handling the job, and the ethical concepts of journalism.”



A
Sudanese NGO worker said that journalists need to learn
how to be more balanced in their reporting.



“Journalism needs to go back to fundamentals, putting
aside affiliations,” he said.



IWPR Hague staff are also using the information gathered
during the trip to start compiling an Arabic-language training
manual. This will focus on basic journalism skills to be
presented at a training event being planned for later this
year.
 



International Justice/ICC Project Review: March - August '08


Training in DRC


“Until
IWPR brought its expertise on the ICC and international
justice to these Bunia journalists, they had never been
provided with an in-depth explanation of the origins of
the court, and why and how it functions,” said IWPR
Africa editor Peter Eichstaedt.
In June, Eichstaedt
also conducted training in eastern DRC. The session on international
justice and the ICC was held for eight radio and print reporters
in the Ituri town of Bunia.



Trainees came from Bunia and surrounding towns to participate
in the course, which was scheduled to coincide with the
start of Lubanga’s trial at the ICC, as well as a
confirmation of charges hearing in the case of militia leaders
Germain Katanga and Matthieu Ndjugolo.



Richard Pituwa, the director of radio station Canal Revelation
in Bunia, helped organise the session, which was interpreted
by IWPR trainee Jacques Kahorha.



Eichstaedt said the session gave trainees the information
they need to report on the international court.



“Until IWPR brought its expertise on the ICC and international
justice to these Bunia journalists, they had never been
provided with an in-depth explanation of the origins of
the court, and why and how it functions,” he said.



“Such
knowledge is vital to the ability to report accurately on
the court and it proceedings in the coming months and years
as indictees come to trial.”



During his DRC trip, Eichstaedt also accompanied Kahorha
on various reporting assignments, including one to the village
of Bogoro, about 25 km from Bunia, which was the scene of
a massacre for which Katanga has been charged by the ICC.



In Goma, Kahorha and Eichstaedt conducted numerous interviews
with victims of sexual violence as well as key players in
the NGO and civil society sectors. These interviews became
part of special reports prepared by IWPR on sexual violence
in the DRC, published in October.
 



International Justice/ICC Project Review: March - August '08


Hague team joined by Ugandan intern


“[The
IWPR] internship has given me courage, and now I will be
able to interview [high-ranking] officials in future,”
said Ugandan intern Caroline Ayugi.
In May, regular
IWPR contributor Caroline Ayugi from Gulu in Uganda flew
over to The Hague to work as an intern in the IWPR office.



Ayugi
worked alongside Eichstaedt, Clifford and Glassborow, who
offered her help with stories. During her time in The Hague,
Ayugi met a number of high profile officials such as Beatrice
Le Fraper du Hellen, a top adviser to the ICC chief prosecutor.



“I had never talked face-to-face with people at that
level before. Back home, we quoted such high-ranking people
from a distance, and only when they made speeches or delivered
statements,” she said



”But this internship has given me courage, and now
I will be able to interview such officials in future.”
 


 



International Justice/ICC Project Review: March - August '08


Coverage of Bemba arrest


The ICC project’s coverage
of the arrest of DRC’s former vice-president and opposition
leader Jean-Pierre Bemba on war crimes charges was widely
republished and circulated among victims groups in the country.



“The information that you
send us is of great importance,” said Justine Masika,
coordinator of Synergie, a group that helps women who have
been raped.
Some said Bemba’s arrest in Belgium
in May was an important step in the fight against impunity,
while others said the court was siding with Congo’s
president Joseph Kabila by wiping out the political opposition.



Bemba, who had been living in Brussels, has been indicted
by the ICC for crimes committed in the Central African Republic,
CAR, which neighbours DRC.



The opposition leader’s Movement for the Liberation
of Congo, MLC, was an armed group in the 2002 to 2003 conflict
in CAR, before later becoming a political party in DRC.
Bemba came second in the 2006 DRC presidential election,
which Kabila won in a run-off.



According to ICC prosecutors, Bemba’s forces terrorised
innocent civilians and carried out a campaign of rape and
looting in CAR.



The
IWPR story Bemba Arrest Sets Key Precedent, from May 28,
was widely republished, including in Kinshasa daily Le Phare.



“The opinions of all the players were included [in
the piece],” said the newpaper’s international
justice reporter Desire-Israel Kazadi.



In Goma – where sexual violence crimes are rife –
the head of a group that helps women who have been raped
said she shared IWPR articles with other members of her
coalition, as well as victims.



“The information that you send us is of great importance,”
said Justine Masika, coordinator of Synergie, a group that
helps women who have been raped.
 


 



International Justice/ICC Project Review: March - August '08


Coverage of LRA activity


“IWPR's
reporting on the Juba [peace] talks…has provided valuable
information that has contributed to shaping our thinking
on the negotiations,” said Elise Keppler, of Human
Rights Watch’s International Justice Programme.
During
the last six months, the ICC project has followed the movements
of the LRA, which is currently based in the Garamba national
park in DRC, from where the rebels were taking part in the
now moribund peace process.



In April, Human Rights Watch, HRW, said that IWPR reporting
had helped focus attention on LRA reinforcement which took
place as it was meant to be preparing to disarm under the
peace agreement it was negotiating with Kampala.



The IWPR story LRA Prepares for War, not Peace described
LRA abductions of civilians – many of them children
– in DRC, South Sudan and CAR, in an apparent bid
to build up its military capacity.




Following publication of the story on April 27, a number
of international organisations took note, including HRW,
and Amnesty International in London.



“IWPR's reporting on recent reports of LRA atrocities
in the Central African Republic, Southern Sudan, and DRC
helped focus attention on this important issue,” said
Elise Keppler, of HRW’s International Justice Programme.



IWPR's reporting on the Juba [peace] talks, more generally,
has provided valuable information that has contributed to
shaping our thinking on the negotiations.”



Elizabeth Evenson, also with HRW, said the IWPR story provided
more detail and depth than other reports.



“There have been some newswire
reports but… in terms of comprehensive pieces, there
has been nothing comparable to [IWPR’s] article in
the international press,” said Elizabeth Evenson of
HRW.
“There have been some newswire reports
but… in terms of comprehensive pieces, there has been
nothing comparable to your article in the international
press,” she said.



“There is still international action that can be taken
to stop abuses by the LRA – as reported by you –
and help execute arrest warrants against them. For all of
us collectively, it is important that these actions be put
on the radar screen of the international community so that
they understand what work is required here, and that the
story isn’t over in Uganda.



“It is essential that journalism play a role in communicating
what is happening in The Hague, which can seem so remote
for the people for whom the court has been established.”
 


 



International Justice/ICC Project Review: March - August '08


IWPR Launches Dutch charity


According
to Justice Julia Sebutinde, a judge in the trial of Charles
Taylor at the Special Tribunal for Sierra Leone, IWPR’s
output is very important.
In March, staff in the Hague
office celebrated becoming a registered Dutch charity –
Stichting IWPR-Nederland – at a ceremony attended
by journalists, diplomats, legal experts and jurists from
international tribunals, including the ICC.



“The
Hague is the international city of peace and justice, so
it is fitting that IWPR-Nederland is established here to
strengthen the Institute’s long-standing commitment
to international justice reporting,” said Frans Kok,
secretary of the board of IWPR-Nederland, and former political
editor of Holland’s leading daily newspaper, NRC Handelsblad,
at the ceremony.



IWPR has reported on trials at the International Criminal
Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, ICTY, since the court
was established in the 1990s.



“The
Hague is committed to international justice, and we are
proud to have IWPR in our city,” said Hague mayor
Jozias van Aartsen, a former minister of foreign affairs,
at the gathering.



Justice Julia Sebutinde, a judge in the trial of Charles
Taylor at the Special Tribunal for Sierra Leone, which is
taking place at the ICC, said IWPR’s output was very
important.



“Journalists have a vital role in communicating the
detailed proceedings of international courts of justice
to people in the countries affected,” she said, “especially
in cases where international courts are convened away from
the conflict area. In this regard, I am very impressed by
the work of IWPR.”
 


 


International Justice/ICC Project Review: March - August '08


Selected articles


Comments

Amnesty
May Not Quell Violence


By Eugène Bakama Bope in Brussels (AR No. 182, 12-Aug-08)

Fair
Trial vs Confidentiality


By Eugene Bakama Bope in Brussels (AR No. 181, 08-Aug-08)

Northern
Ugandans Deserve a Break


By Bill Oketch in Lira (16-Jul-08)

Can
Excess of Justice Lead to Injustice?


By Lisa Clifford in The Hague (26-Jun-08)

Bemba
is ICC’s Biggest Fish


By Eugène Bakama Bope in Brussels (AR No. 175, 18-Jun-08)

Justice
Squandered


By Eugène Bakama Bope in Brussels (AR No. 174, 10-Jun-08)

The
Kony Problem


By Peter Eichstaedt (2-Jun-08)

Sudan’s
Wake-Up Call


By Peter Eichstaedt in The Hague (12-May-08)

Curtains
for Kony


By Peter Eichstaedt (14-Apr-08)

Countering
the FDLR


By Eugène Bakama Bope (AR No. 165, 08-Apr-08)

Uganda:
Real Peace or Empty Gesture?


By Peter Eichstaedt, IWPR Africa Editor (4-Apr-08)
 

Special Reports

Education
in Crisis in Uganda’s North


By Patrick Okino and Bill Oketch in northern Uganda Lira
(AR No. 184, 01-Sep-08)

Northern
Ugandans Bear Mental Scars


By Caroline Ayugi in Gulu and Bill Oketch in Lira (AR No.
184, 27-Aug-08)

Corruption
Probe Leads to Further Arrests


By Patrick Okino in Lira (AR No. 184, 27-Aug-08)

New
Corruption Claims Investigated


By Patrick Okino in Lira (AR No. 183, 21-Aug-08)

Returnees
Reviving Local Economy


By Patrick Okino in Dokolo (AR No. 183, 19-Aug-08)

Doubts
Over Recovery Plan


By Patrick Okino in Lira (AR No. 182, 12-Aug-08)

Northern
Aid Programme Probed


By Bill Oketch and Patrick Okino in Lira (AR No. 182, 13-Aug-08)

LRA
Prepares for War, not Peace


By Katy Glassborow and Peter Eichstaedt in The Hague, with
Emma Mutaizibwa in Kampala (AR No. 168, 24-Apr-08)
 

 



 

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