The International Crimes Division (ICD) is Uganda’s first court to have jurisdiction over serious international crimes. The idea for the ICD or the War Crimes Division (WCD), as it was formerly known, was put forth during the Juba Peace talks, which began in 2006 to put an end to the Northern Uganda conflict. During the talks, the Peace Agreement on Accountability and Reconciliation was signed, which compelled the Government of Uganda to establish formal and informal judicial mechanisms to deal with issues of accountability and reparations for the serious crimes committed in Northern Uganda.
In 2008, the Government of Uganda established the WCD in an effort to live up to its obligations under the Juba Peace talks. The WCD’s name was changed to the International Crimes Division (ICD) on June 8th 2011. It currently stands as a special division of the High Court.
The ICD’s seat is in Gulu, Uganda.
To try genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, as well as terrorism, human trafficking, piracy, and any other international crime defined in Uganda’s 2010 International Criminal Court Act, 1964 Geneva Conventions Act, Penal Code Act, or any other criminal law.
The ICD’s Legal Backbone
A legal notice issued by Uganda’s chief justice in May 2011, formally established the ICD. The minimum penalty for the crimes under the ICD’s jurisdiction is several years of imprisonment, with capital punishment as the maximum sentence. Decisions made by the ICD can be appealed to Uganda’s Constitutional Court and the Supreme Court.
The ICD has jurisdiction over serious international crimes, as prescribed in the Practice Directions of the ICD. These include genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, terrorism, human trafficking and piracy. The ICD also has jurisdiction over international crimes defined under Uganda’s 2010 International Criminal Court Act, 1964 Geneva Conventions Act, Penal Code Act, or any other criminal law.
The ICD’s jurisdiction is constrained by the terms of Uganda’s Amnesty Act 2010, which provides protection from prosecution or punishment to “any Ugandan who has at any time since the 26th day of January, 1986, engaged in or is engaging in war or armed rebellion against the government of the Republic of Uganda”.
The ICD has no legal relationship with the ICC.
For information on the structure of the ICD, please refer to the JLOS document Frequently Asked Questions, which can be found here.