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Tanzania’s Mtabila Camp finally closed

Lucy Hovil and Theodore Mbazumutima
December 2012

For the international community and the government of Tanzania, closing Mtabila Camp and emptying it of refugees might make it look like the problem has been solved, but in reality it has only displaced or dispersed it to Burundi and elsewhere in the region

The residents of Tanzania’s Mtabila refugee camp are currently being returned to Burundi against their will. This population, most of whom fled to Tanzania in the 1990s, has been facing increasing pressure to return to Burundi for several years in something of a battle of the wills: on the one side has been the government of Tanzania which has been increasingly withdrawing services, banning planting of crops and offering incentives to leave the camp, and on the other has been a group of refugees who have dug their heels in and refused to move.[1]

Read the full article here.

In Ituri, A Quiet Wait for the Verdict on Ngudjolo

(December 17, 2012) On December 18, 2012, the ICC will announce the second verdict in its history against Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui. In contrast to the fear and anticipation which preceded the March verdict against Thomas Lubanga, this decision is being awaited quietly by people in the affected region of eastern DRC. Many opinion leaders are hesitant to speculate on the potential implications of the decision in the case, adopting a wait and see attitude. In the words of one community leader, “We must first observe the process up to the end.” (Il faut d’abord observer la procédure jusqu’au bout).

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Preventing re-displacement through genuine reintegration in Burundi

Displacement is often part of a cyclical process of conflict and displacement. Preventing displacement, therefore, is not only about preventing new displacement but about ensuring that people do not get re-displaced.

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Research by IRRI included in recent publications on transitional justice and displacement

Transitional justice mechanisms, including trials, truth commissions and reparations are often employed in the same countries which have also experienced mass displacement. The connection is clear: transitional justice mechanisms are designed to address the consequences of the same large scale violations of human rights and violent conflict that are the cause of mass displacement. Yet, little attention has been paid to the connections between displacement and transitional justice and the way in which transitional justice mechanisms address displacement as a human rights concern.

The International Refugee Rights Initiative recently participated in a research project exploring these issues, organized by the Brookings-LSE Project on Internal Displacement and the International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ). IRRI’s Senior Researcher, Lucy Hovil, participated alongside researchers and practitioners from five continents spread among six working groups (criminal justice, gender justice, reparations, restitution, justice-sensitive security sector reform and truth-telling). In particular, Dr. Hovil contributed two pieces, “Gender, Transitional Justice, and Displacement: Challenges in Africa’s Great Lakes Region”, a reflection focused specifically on the Great Lakes region and published alongside a series of other case studies and “The Nexus between Displacement and Transitional Justice: A Gender-Justice Dimension”, a more expansive analysis discussion based on the case studies and additional research, published in Transitional Justice and Displacement, published by the Social Science Research Council.

Issues of Reparations in the Lubanga Case: An Interview with a local activist

Olivia Bueno, July 24, 2012

On July 10, 2012, the International Criminal Court (ICC) pronounced its first sentence – 14 years imprisonment – for Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) militia leader Thomas Lubanga. On the ground in the DRC speculation is now turning to the next element of the proceedings – reparations. Chambers have indicated that they will pronounce themselves “in due course,” but they face serious issues. Can Lubanga be ordered to pay reparations given his apparent lack of means? If not, how will these be funded? Who will receive reparations? Only those victims who formally participated in proceedings? Or will the number of victims be expanded in the reparations phase?

Read the full blog post here.

14 years: Too much or not enough?

Olivia Bueno, July 16, 2012

The announcement on July 10 of the first sentence handed down by the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the case of Thomas Lubanga has sparked diverse responses in his home province of Ituri in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Although there are some that approve of the sentence, the decision has also been attacked from both sides. For some victims of the crimes committed in Ituri, the sentence that was announced by the court is not severe enough. For those that support Lubanga and those who view the processes of the court as compromised, 14 years is excessive.

Read the full blog post here.

The Nexus between Forced Migration and Transitional Justice

Lucy Hovil, July 2012, in "Where Law Meets Reality Forging African Transitional Justice" Edited by Moses Chrispus Okello, Chris Dolan, Undine Whande, Nokukhanya Mncwabe, Levis Onegi, Stephen Oola

Available for puchase here.

The ICC's First Verdict: The View From Ituri

Olivia Bueno, The InterDependent, April 3, 2012.

On March 14, 2012, the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued the first verdict since it began operations 10 years ago in the case of Thomas Lubanga, a former militia leader from the region of Ituri in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Lubanga, whose forces had sought regional autonomy for Ituri, was convicted of conscripting and enlisting child soldiers and using them in hostilities.

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Lubanga Found Guilty: Opinion Divided in Congo

Olivia Bueno,, March 20, 2012.

The run up to the International Criminal Court (ICC) verdict in Ituri was marked by fear and anticipation, highlighted by rumors that the judgment would be favorable to Thomas Lubanga. Since the announcement of the verdict last week, there have been no major security incidents, but the mood remains tense and a serious national debate is developing about the Court. The strands of this conversation are varied. Those who support Lubanga view the verdict as unjust and are attacking the Court; others, particularly victims, express qualified satisfaction but express concern about the future. In the national media, a debate is ongoing about questions of sovereignty, Congo’s role in fighting impunity, and the appropriateness of the Court’s approach. Meanwhile, Iturians remain concerned about how this debate will affect security, and victims and witnesses feel particularly vulnerable.

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Fear and Anticipation in Ituri Ahead of the ICC’s First Verdict

Olivia Bueno,, March 13, 2012.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) will announce its first verdict in the case of Thomas Lubanga, former leader of the Congolese rebel group, the Union des Patriots Congolais (UPC) tomorrow. In eastern DRC’s Ituri region, where Lubanga led the UPC and is accused of committing the crimes for which he is on trial, all eyes are on the Court. Speculation about the outcome is buoying the hopes of some and increasing the fears of others. In particular, rumors abound that Lubanga will be either acquitted or given a very light sentence, which, with time already served, might lead to an early release.  As one Congolese activist put it, “Public opinion is preparing itself for only one eventuality, that of the liberation of Thomas Lubanga."

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