Press Release: 25 February 2024

ICC Outreach Unit facilitates children’s dialogue in Uganda


 

Thousands of children who have suffered and are still suffering crimes of an international nature during armed conflicts were honoured by their Ugandan peers during events organised by the ICC Outreach Unit in the district of Gulu, on 16 June, to commemorate the Day of the African Child, observed across Africa.

The commemorative acts included an outreach session and a one hour radio talk show.

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Children participate in a radio panel discussion to talk about their rights ©ICC-CPI
The outreach session was attended by 1,600 children, aged 13 to 19, from four secondary schools in the Gulu district namely, Awere Secondary School, Sacred Heart Secondary School, Lukome Secondary school and Bishop Negri College. The radio talk show, hosted by Mega FM, Gulu, enabled a dialogue between children and listeners calling into the radio station.

 

Schools Outreach Session

During the interactive session, Outreach officials made presentations on the Court’s mandate and its current cases, followed by a question and answer session. Discussions focused in the provision that the Court does not prosecute people who were below the age of 18 when alleged crimes were committed; and the rights of victims to participate voluntarily in ICC proceedings, and the distinct roles of victims before the Court that can be participants or witnesses to render testimonies in the courtroom if they are called by the Prosecutor or by the Defence.

Key statements were also delivered by the Head Teachers of the participating schools, who denounced all forms of abuse against children and reiterated their commitment to the promotion of children’s rights as provided in the national constitution, as well as other international instruments that govern the rights of children. They called for the immediate release of children who are still in captivity and urged that the perpetrators of such atrocious crimes are made accountable ‘before a transparent and credible judicial system’.

Pupils and teachers asked questions pertaining to the enforcement of arrest warrants, ICC mechanisms to protect victims and witnesses, justice and peace process, and decisions adopted during a Conference of States Parties of the ICC, concluded recently in Kampala.

Radio talk show

Thousands of people in the Acholi sub-region listened to the voices of children invited to the popular talk-show that specialises in promoting respect for human rights and the rule of law. In a dialogue between the special guests and the audience, several abuses

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Radio talk show with children on the occassion marking the Day of the African Child ©ICC-CPI
allegedly committed by different armed actors during conflicts were highlighted. Issues related to war crimes of an international nature were also discussed. People asked questions about heinous acts such as murder, conscription, abduction, slavery, torture and rape. Several children called the radio station and thanked the ICC Outreach Unit for the initiative that enabled the ‘children to talk to children’ on issues that affect their well-being.

 

In the coming weeks, the Outreach Unit will replicate similar programmes in the affected communities of Teso, Lango and Madi sub-regions of north and north-eastern Uganda, in order to raise awareness about the plight of children in armed conflicts.

Background

The ICC has jurisdiction over genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. The definition of these crimes includes various references to children. For example, the definition of 'enslavement' as a crime against humanity makes particular mention of children. One of the violations cited as a war crime is the conscription or enlistment of children under the age of 15 or using them to participate actively in hostilities (article 8). The Rome Statute was also the first legal instrument to codify sexual violence as both a crime against humanity and a war crime.

In the past the ICC has also broken new ground, prosecuting crimes against children in cases heard before the Court in situations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Uganda in relation to recruitment and using children in hostilities.  


 

For further information please contact Maria Mabinty Kamara, Field Outreach Co-ordinator for Uganda at +256-772-700655 or [email protected]