What Uganda Agreed With S. Sudan On UPDF Mission
Written by Barbara Among
January 16, 2014 [KAMPALA] — Uganda could incur the cost of the war in South Sudan, according to the status of forces agreement between the government of Uganda and that of South Sudan.
The agreement availed to Parliament on Tuesday states that Uganda will meet all medical costs and arrange evacuation of its troops whenever needed.
However, the agreement is silent on several critical issues on the rules of engagement about the UPDF involvement in the war of world’s youngest nation. There is no mention of scope of operations, duration of stay in South Sudan.
Though it states that the UPDF will be given freedom of entry and exit, the pact is silent on the duration of Uganda’s stay in South Sudan.
The agreement entered into on January 10, last year bears the signature of Defence minister Crispus Kiyonga on behalf of Uganda and an unnamed South Sudan official, whose designation is also not shown.
It also makes no mention of the signatories and witnesses by the commanders and foreign affairs’ officials of the two countries.
A section of Members of Parliament had on Tuesday, while debating the deployment in South Sudan, demanded that Uganda engages for a defined period, suggesting a one-month stay.
The seven-page agreement is silent on who would meet the cost of the war but mentions that Uganda would use its own military equipment and allow it to freely move its military gear into South Sudan.
Uganda also undertakes in the agreement to compensate any third party claims arising from acts or omission by its soldiers. But neither South Sudan nor Uganda shall make any claims suffered by its servicemen or for damage or loss of property during the war.
It also makes no mention of compensation of families of the UPDF soldiers that die in line of duty.
Immunity from prosecution
The agreement, however, shields the forces from being tried under the South Sudanese law or their courts. “Member of visiting forces shall be subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of the sending state’s law and courts in respect of any disciplinary or criminal offences which may be committed by them in the territory of the Hose state,” read the agreement.
“In case the host State establishes any member of a visiting force has committed any criminal act in the territory of the Host State, the Host State shall promptly inform the sending state of the alleged criminal act of its member and avail the sending state material evidence pertaining to the criminal act alleged,” reads the agreement.
It also says that any dispute will be resolved through consultaion between the two countries. This means Uganda could be shielded from referral of any cases to the international courts such as the International Criminal Court or the International Court of Justice (ICJ).
Uganda would also avoid a scenario of 2005, when DR Congo sued it and the ICJ found that Uganda violated the principles of non-use of force in international relations and of non-intervention; that it violated its obligations under international human rights law and that it violated other obligations owed to the DR Congo.
The Juba agreement between the two parties instead requires that south Sudan reports any criminal case to it and hand over the evidence pertaining to the criminal act alleged.
UPDF will be exempted from income tax and any other form of direct taxation on their pay, allownaces, remittances and other emoluments and benefits.
Simon Mulongo, (Bubulo West): “In the agreement, I don’t see issues related to resources accompanying the forces. There are only administrative costs to do with their health .There are critical issues missing in the agreement. “We want the principle, scope and projected duration and whether it is to be extended.”
MP Saleh Kamba (Kibuku):“The Chama Cha Mapinduzi party in Tanzania moved a motion to debate Uganda’s compensation of their forces in the 1979 war but our agreement is not addressing the losses and compensation to families of the dead soldiers.”
MP Semujju Nganda (Kyaddondo East):“A love letter between the two governments with no compensation for lives lost. We are buying the food and uniforms for our soldiers and we find this very strange.”