War crimes prosecutor won’t meet Uganda rebels

Last week, I wrote on the risk that LRA rebel leaders’ insistence on amnesty from prosecution posed for the prospects of peace in northern Uganda. Now it seems that, fortunately, the importance of justice and accountability is not being overlooked. From Reuters:

The International Criminal Court’s prosecutor said on Tuesday he would not meet Ugandan rebels who want him to lift indictments against them before they sign a final peace agreement.

Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo said in a statement the leaders of the rebel Lord’s Resistance Army he has charged can approach the court’s judges if they want to challenge his case.

“Any LRA legal representative would have to follow the judicial procedures and file applications before the pre-trial chamber,” he said, adding he was confident his case was sound.

Moreno-Ocampo’s response to this hurdle reminds us that, as important as the ICC’s work in bringing perpetrators to justice is, the court also fulfills a crucial role in establishing the rule of law and appropriate legal procedure. Uganda will not be able to fully transition into a phase of reconciliation through procedural shortcuts in the interest of a quick — but ultimately unsubstantial — peace.