Transitional Justice in the Face of COVID-19

The June 2019 National Transitional Justice Policy provides a framework to guide formal and informal justice processes that address the justice, accountability and reconciliation needs in post-conflict situations with the aim of promoting national reconciliation, peace and justice. Through a 6-month radio campaign, the Peace Centre and partners ICTJ-Uganda, AYINET, RLP, FIDA-Uganda have partnered with TracFM to collect real-time data from citizens using polls on the themes of the Transitional Justice Policy. Through radio talk shows, citizens discussed their conflict experiences, the lingering impact of human rights violations, efforts of different actors and appropriate measures for recovery, reconciliation and redress for victims and war-affected communities moving forward. This was structured to align with the strategic priorities and key cross cutting issues in the policy.

As part of the ongoing campaign, on the 27th of  May, 2020, Women’s International Peace Centre working with the ICT J-Uganda and Track FM organized a tweet chat to examine the impact of COVID-19 outbreak, response and containment measures on Transitional Justice efforts as well as how it affects the lives of victims and survivors primarily in Northern Uganda.

The tweetchat was moderated by Rosebell Kagumire, @RosebellK, a Pan African Feminist, and Editor AfricanFeminism.com, a platform that documents narratives and experiences of African women on the continent and in the diaspora. 

With a panel of Transitional Justice experts including Teddy Apunyo, a Researcher with more than 15 years’ experience working as a practitioner in humanitarian emergencies and post conflict settings. Bako Patricia, a Lawyer by training who is enthusiastic about criminal justice with an international and national perspective, human rights and international Law. Sarah Kihika Kasande Head of Office -Uganda, International Center for Transitional Justice and an Advocate of Courts of Judicature in Uganda. Nicholas Opiyo a Human Rights Lawyer and the Executive Director of Chapter Four a civil rights organization that provides research, advocacy and outreach services to influence laws, policies and practices in the interest of civil liberties and human rights. And Juliet Were,  Deputy Executive Director, The Peace Centre, a Feminist Researcher who has conceptualized and coordinated studies on Governance, Peace and Security; Women’s Health issues in DRC, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Burundi and Nepal.

The tweet chat created awareness about the campaign, shared different views and involved more people in the discussion about Transitional Justice. More than 7,000 social media users were able to interact with the hashtag. Incase you missed this timely discussion you can look it up under #TransitionalJusticeUg

Transitional Justice Advocacy Campaign Planning Meeting

To ensure a fruitful campaign, The Peace Centre and TRAC FM organized a 3-day advocacy campaign planning meeting from 22nd to 24th January in Gulu District. 21 partner organizations represented Acholi, Lango, Teso, West Nile, and a national focus. These included ICTJ, AYINET, Refugee Law Project, Concerned Parents Association (CPA), Lira Women’s Peace Initiatives (WOPI-U), NECPA, Teso Women’s Peace Activists (TEWPA), Uganda Victims Foundations (UVF), Foundation for Justice and Development Initiatives (FJDI), LDML, Ombaci Massacre Victims Association, People’s Voice for Peace (PVP).

During the meeting, we identified and agreed on the focus areas for the campaign including goals and objectives, identified existing and new advocacy issues and opportunities related to transitional justice in northern Uganda mapped out stakeholders that are relevant to the conversation on transitional justice and strategize on a memorization act for northern Uganda.

To set the scene for the meeting, Chris Ongom, Executive Director of Uganda Victim Foundation, shares the Historic Overview of Transitional Justice: 10 Years After the LRA Conflict.

He noted that the missed opportunity was the documentation of the atrocities that the Transitional Justice policy is trying to address. The language used in the Transitional Justice policy also needs to be articulated as CSOs carry out advocacy campaigns in order not to victimize the survivors and victims.

Some of the issues raised after the presentation included; Popularisation of the policy among its beneficiaries and the citizens; there should be a strategy developed by all relevant stakeholders to popularise and publicize the policy. The policy does not address the issue of stateless children born during the wars and the issue of the atrocities has been narrowed down to northern issues yet victims think it should be handled as a national issue. The participants formed groups to discuss what issues (challenges/ problems) they are addressing in regard to Transitional Justice, solutions/ interventions that they and other stakeholders/ partners are using to address those challenges?

Sandra Tumwesigye, The Peace Centre’s Communications and Advocacy Coordinator, guides participants during the session on the planned community dialogues and how they relate to data-driven advocacy.

Sandra highlighted that the campaign will consist of community and radio dialogues and data will be collected during the dialogues to be used in advocacy to promote Transitional Justice at the regional and national levels.  The community dialogues will be issue-specific conversations supported by data collected during the radio talk shows. The participants then had to identify the most ideal criteria/structure on where and how to engage citizens during the community dialogues.

Group sessions underway to cluster challenges related to transitional justice into themes. This session is vital in how TRAC FM develops poll questions and topics that will be discussed during radio talk shows and for later advocacy.

Radio Advocacy Campaign Themes identified included; the Transitional Justice Policy, Access to Justice (Formal Justice system), Traditional Justice Mechanisms, Nation Building and Reconciliation, healing, Reparation, Amnesty and Memorialization.

What opportunities does radio present in the campaign?


Lacambel Ogena speaks about the role of radio during and after the LRA War. Ogena ran a radio program named ‘Come Back Home’ during the turbulent times in northern Uganda. He dedicated his message on peace and reconciliation.

During this session, participants discussed the role of the media in the campaign highlighting that the media should not cause friction within the public to enable the campaign to achieve its objectives but rather use radio as a mediator between the government and the victims of the atrocities. There have been different unfruitful interventions on Transitional Justice in the target communities of the campaign and victims are tired of dialogues. How is this campaign going to be different?  What strategies have been laid to achieve results? Participants emphasized that the poll questions shouldn’t be pointing figures but facilitating more open dialogue and the campaign should educate victims that reparation does not necessarily mean compensation.

Participants discuss the ways to communicate the transitional justice issues in a simple way, identify who should be part of the conversation and the contentious issues under the themes.

Advocacy Campaign on Transitional Justice in Northern Uganda

The new year kicks off with an exciting partnership between The Peace Centre and TRAC FM on a 6-month interactive radio campaign to engage citizens and leaders on transitional justice in the greater North of Uganda, including Acholi, Lango, Teso, Karamoja and West Nile.

This campaign follows the recent approval of the June 2019 National Transitional Justice Policy and focuses on a 10-year post-conflict period with the aim of facilitating public discussions and reflection on citizen’s experiences of the conflict, related responses and gaps that still remain in government and civil society efforts to address the impact of the conflict. The campaign also seeks to contribute to making citizens aware of existing government policies that provide the basis for individuals and groups to demand specific actions from local and national leaders.

During the 6 months period, we hope to engage citizens in a debate on the status of peace, conflict and transitional justice in the target areas of this campaign and evaluate the wins, challenges and (missed) opportunities of the 10-year post-conflict period, and also support citizens to hold their local and national leaders accountable for gaps in responses to their key post-conflict concerns. Advocate for implementation of transitional policies, especially for enduring victims. Work towards government recognition, a joint narrative and collective remembrance.

The 10 radio stations we shall partner with include; Radio Pacis (Arua) and Pakwach FM (Pakwach) in West Nile, Mega FM (Gulu) and Mighty Fire FM (Kitgum) in Acholi, Radio Wa (Lira) and Dokolo FM (Dokolo) in Lango, Delta FM (Soroti) and Continental FM (Kumi) in Teso, Akica FM (Moroto) and Voice of Karamoja (Kotido) in Karamoja.

About TRAC FM

TRAC FM is an NGO that enables citizens to take part in meaningful public debate on public policy and governance. TRAC FM reaches out to even the most remote and excluded citizens through the use of basic mobile phones, free SMS and interactive FM radio talk-shows broadcast in local languages. Through this, TRAC FM collects valuable real-time data from citizens throughout Uganda which helps to identify socio-economic and political trends. The collected data assists policymakers and practitioners on the ground to respond in more flexible ways to emerging opportunities and risks.

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