Follow us on Twitter

Justice

You are here

Before further exploring accountability and justice questions, the survey asked respondents what justice meant to them. Most defined it in terms of holding wrongdoers accountable (29%), holding trials (25%), being fair (18%), and reconciling (9%). In other words, most attached procedural and institutional concepts to the idea of justice. Few respondents, however, indicated having been themselves, or their household, in contact with the formal justice system. This low percentage may explain why nearly half of respondents (49%) said they had no knowledge at all about Uganda’s formal justice system and another 29 percent knew “very little” about it.

Figure 27: Knowledge of Justice System

Figure 27 - Knowledge of Justice System

Regardless of whether respondents had had contact with or knowledge of the formal justice system, the survey asked for their views. One in three respondents (33%) said they thought the justice system was corrupt. However, one quarter (24%) viewed it as working well. Another 19 percent had no opinion, possibly because they were not familiar with it. Finally, 11 percent said that the formal justice system was for the rich and educated. Just one in four (24%) viewed it as “good” or “very good.”

Traditional justice mechanisms, such as ceremonies, have been advanced as a way to deal with LRA combatants. About half of respondents (53%) viewed such mechanisms as useful for this purpose. A majority of respondents said such ceremonies helped the community reconcile (39%) and forgive the wrongdoer (25%). However one in three (31%) said it did not change anything. Among all respondents, 47 percent further said they had participated in such ceremonies at least once. They most frequently identified “Slaughtering of the Goat” (21%), “Stepping on the Egg” (14%), “Mato Oput” (13%), and “Cleansing of the Land” (11%).

Considering the range of accountability mechanisms available, the survey asked respondents to choose their preferred mechanism. First, we asked respondents to choose one of four options: amnesty, trials, a truth commission, or traditional ceremonies. The highest proportion favored peace with amnesty (45%) over peace with a truth-seeking mechanism (32%), peace with trials (15%), or peace with traditional ceremonies (8%). Second, we asked respondents specifically about options for trying perpetrators. The highest proportion favored trials in Uganda by Ugandan courts (35%), over trials abroad by an international court (28%), trials in Uganda by an international court (22%), or no trials at all (15%). Results on both questions are consistent with the 2007 findings.

Figure 28: Accountability and Trial Options

Figure 28 - Accountability and Trial Options

Overall, these results show that, while many see accountability as important, most believe also that LRA leaders could be pardoned for their actions and persuaded to stop fighting. This may reflect their desire to move on, their acceptance of local reconciliation mechanisms, or the fear that seeking prosecution could hinder peace. At the same time, many respondents wanted to see the government held accountable for its actions during the conflict.