Valerie Arnould’s Fieldwork in Uganda

Posted by: Elizabeth Rhoads

13th March 2014

In January-February 2014, Dr. Valerie Arnould undertook field research in Uganda for the TJDI project. She met with NGO experts, academics, legal officials and donor representatives in Kampala to discuss the country’s engagement with transitional justice.She was joined for a portion of the research by Anja Mihr, co-director of the project.

While research on Uganda is ongoing the field trip brought out a few interesting preliminary findings. First, investigating the role of the security forces is widely seen as the main gap in transitional justice. Second, the tension between trial and amnesty processes remains a key challenge, especially as both have faced challenges in fulfilling their expected roles of promoting rule of law and participation. Third, the hybrid nature of the regime and the executive’s concern with retaining power is widely seen to impose significant constraints on the ability of transitional justice to support democratic institution-building.

Valerie and Anja also went to Kitgum in northern Uganda where they visited the recently established National Memory and Peace Documentation Centre (see photo below). The centre is the first organisation in northern Uganda to create an exhibit on the conflict, which it intends to expand into a full-fledged museum. It is also engaged in a data collection exercise aimed at creating a historical record of the northern conflict.

NMPDC Kitgum1

In Kampala, Valerie also visited underground chambers located on the Mengo Palace grounds, where opponents to late president Idi Amin were imprisoned and tortured (see photos below).

Idi Amin Execution Chamber1