The Defense and internal affairs committee of parliament has resolved to summon Peter Nyombi, the Attorney general and Defense Minister Dr Crispus Kiyonga to explain clearly Status of Forces agreement, which paved way for the deployment of UPDF in South Sudan.
Kiyonga laid the Status of Forces agreement in parliament on Tuesday when he presented a motion seeking approval for the deployment of UPDF in South Sudan.
During his presentation, Kiyonga said the agreement was meant to protect UPDF from prosecution under the South Sudan laws should some of the soldiers be found in conflict with the law there. Article 3 of the Status Forces Agreement gives details of protection of the law stating that members of the UPDF will be entitled to the protection of the law of the Host state.
Article 4 of the agreement detailing jurisdiction states that, UPDF shall be subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of laws in South Sudan and courts in respect of any disciplinary or criminal offences which may be committed by them in South Sudan.
Article 4(4) of the agreement states that incase South Sudan establishes that any member of the UPDF has committed any criminal act, Uganda shall be informed of the alleged criminal act of its soldier and evidence availed pertaining to the alleged criminal act. However, on Tuesday Kiyonga didn’t specify that UPDF was involved in active combat in Southern Sudan until President Museveni broke silence on the matter on Wednesday.
Museveni told the 5th Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Great Lakes Region on Peace and Security in Luanda, Angola that, SPLA and UPDF troops had a big battle with the rebel forces on January 13th, about 90Kms from Juba, where they inflicted huge defeat on them.
On Thursday morning, Simon Mulongo, the Bubulo East MP queried the agreement, which also allows South Sudan to send its troops to Uganda and vice versa. He also noted that the agreement does not define the mission and duration of the UPDF in South Sudan.
In the agreement, Article 5 specifies claims and liabilities which states that each party undertakes to waive any claim it may have against the other party or officer in service for injury including injury resulting into death suffered by its personnel. The waiver also covers damage to loss of property owned by a party if such injury, death or damage or loss is caused by the acts of omissions of the party or officer in performance of his duties.
Article 5(2) states that with regard to claims of third parties arising out of acts or omissions of members of a visiting force, the host will state will consider the claim in a fair and just manner taking into account all the circumstances of the case.
The laws and practices prevailing in its territory and will submit a report to the sending state for consideration and payment. However Kamba Saleh, the Kibuku county MP wonders how the compensation will be handled.
The Defence committee has now postponed discussions on the Status of Forces Agreement to next week on Tuesday pending advice from its legal team. The committee has summoned the Attorney General Peter Nyombi and the Defense Minister Cripus Kiyonga to appear and explain clearly the benefits of the agreement to Uganda.
Paddy Ankunda, the UPDF spokesperson says UPDF is in South Sudan under a bilateral agreement.