Lawyer Male Mabirizi has sued the government of Uganda seeking a declaration that the entry of the army, the Uganda People’s Defense Forces into the Democratic Republic of Congo is illegal.
On November 30th 2021, the Ministry of Defense and Veteran Affairs Spokesperson Brigadier Flavia Byekwaso issued a statement indicating that the UPDF and the DRC army together had launched artillery and airstrikes in the neighboring DRC to eliminate the camps of the Allied Democratic Forces, a gazetted terror group.
The group has over the years been accused of sponsoring terrorism activities in the country with their biggest cells alleged to be at the Border of Uganda and DRC and in Rwenzori mountains of Kasese District.
However, in Mabirizi’s case filed before the Civil Division of the High Court in Kampala, he contends that the aforementioned entry and stay of UPDF and carrying out of military and other operations, business, trade, road construction and other activities is neither a peace enforcement nor a peacekeeping mission and it does not amount to a declaration of war between the two countries.
There are three situations in Ugandan laws where the UPDF is allowed to move out of Uganda.
The first situation enshrined in the Constitution says that the UPDF can go outside the country when there is a declaration of war against a certain country when they are going for a peacekeeping mission or a peace enforcement mission.
However, to Mabirizi, none of these situations is happening for the UPDF to be in DRC.
As such, Mabirizi contends that the UPDF is supposed to protect its territory carefully within the borders but they are not allowed under the law to cross over and pursue their enemies even when they are not in their country unless it is on the aforementioned basis provided for under the law.
The evidence submitted to the court by Mabirizi indicates that on December 19th 2005, in the case filed by DRC against Uganda, the International Court of Justice delivered a judgment in which Uganda was ordered to pay aggression reparations and if UPDF continues to stay in DRC, its activities are most likely to breed more liability against Uganda.
“Given their past actions as confirmed by International Court of Justice, the entry into and remaining in the Democratic Republic of Congo is likely to be used by UPDF officers and commanders to loot for their personal benefit after which the burden will be sent to Uganda Citizens”, reads the application in part.
It adds that “the entry and remaining in the Democratic Republic of Congo is likely intended to siphon public funds under classified expenses purportedly to finance the aggression and plunder of a foreign sovereign state.”
Mabirizi now wants court to issue an order to government compelling the UPDF to immediately cease all activities and operations in DRC and return to Uganda without any delay.
He also wants court to make a declaration that the aforementioned activities are illegal, procedurally improper and outside the functions and powers of UPDF.
The Attorney General who is listed as the only respondent in this case is yet to be summoned to file his defense to the matter before it can be allocated to a Judge for hearing.
Both Ugandan Government and her DRC Counterpart have since openly backed up the UPDF’s operations in DRC saying that they will kick out terrorists and restore peace.