Uganda brands Congo's multibillion-dollar reparations claims ruinous

23 April 2021 - 07:28
By Reuters
The International Court of Justice in The Hague, Netherlands. File photo.
Image: REUTERS/Yves Herman The International Court of Justice in The Hague, Netherlands. File photo.

Uganda on Thursday told the International Court of Justice (ICJ) that the more than $13bn (R185.5bn) in reparations sought by Congo for Kampala's role in conflicts in Congo's Ituri province could ruin its economy.

“The Democratic Republic on Congo's claims are dangerously disproportionate,” Uganda's attorney general, William Byaruhanga, told the UN court, adding that granting them would have “staggering economic consequences”.

On Monday lawyers for Congo had told the court they were seeking $4.3bn in reparations payments for the alleged victims of Uganda's involvement in the 1998-2003 conflict in mineral-rich Ituri.

They also claimed a further $2.8bn for damages to wildlife, $5.7bn for macroeconomic damages and more than $700m for loss of natural resources, bringing total reparation demands to more than $13bn.

The long-running dispute over Uganda's involvement in Ituri was first brought before the court in 1999 and in 2005 the ICJ ruled that Uganda had violated international law by occupying parts of the eastern Congolese province with its own troops and supporting other armed groups in the area during the conflict. It also ruled that Congo had violated international law with an attack on the Ugandan embassy in Kinshasa.

The court ordered the African neighbours to negotiate mutual reparations, but in 2015 Congo returned to the UN court saying the talks were not progressing. After setting up a commission of experts to help it assess damage amounts, the court is holding hearings this week before it issues a decision on reparations.