Judiciary Launches ‘Judicial Bench Book’ to Guide on International Crimes in Uganda

The Judiciary in collaboration with the Avocats Sans Frontieres (ASs) have launched the Judicial Bench Book (JBB) on the criminal adjudication of international crimes in Uganda.

According to Irene Anying, the Country Director of ASF, the book spearheaded by the late Justice Elizabeth Nahamya will help guide the handling of international crimes in Uganda.

“The book is a landmark contribution to Uganda’s legal action on holding the perpetrators of international crimes accountable but also to deliver redress to victims of international crimes,” Anyinh said at the book launch held at Mestil hotel in Kampala.

She noted that prosecution of international crimes is much needed to ensure that the crimes are prosecuted fairly adequately, and with particular sensitivity to the rights of victims on the one hand, the accused persons on the other hand.

Meanwhile, Dr. Flavian Zeija, Principal Judge, said the book will be of great importance to the judges handling cases at the ICD.

He added that some judges do not wholly have the idea and workings of the ICD as it entails international laws.

“These cases of International Crimes Division are very complicated, we use both the Ugandan system and the international system. However, our judges go through the Ugandan system. And in ICD, it’s a bit complicated.We hope this book will help give them an insight.”

“I will tell you that the lawyers and judges as well do not understand this procedure. When you post a judge in this division, they come to me and say, ‘My Lord, now you are posting me but I don’t even know what to do’, so, I believe this book will be a great guide,” he said.

He encouraged court users to utilize the book and apply the best practices and standards on international criminal procedure.

Sarah Kasande Kihika, Head of Office – International Center for Transitional Justice – ICTJ Uganda revealed that the development started way back in 2018 following discussions between ICTJ and ASF.

She noted that the main aim was to provide long term and sustainable support to the judiciary, specifically the ICD.

Dr. Katja Kerschbaumer – Head Office, Austrian Development Cooperation, Uganda said, “The bench book is therefore a much-needed resource that will bolster the capacity of the ICD to deliver justice effectively.”

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