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ICJ hearings in Kinshasa vs Kampala case end


NAIROBI, 29 Apr 2005 (IRIN) - Hearings ended on Friday in a case brought by the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) at The Hague, Netherlands, accusing Uganda of invading its territory and committing human rights violations.

"Uganda failed to take the steps necessary to prevent the plunder of the natural resources of the DRC - including by its own military officers - as it was required to do by general principles of international law," Philippe Sands, a professor of law at London University, told the court on Monday.

He was representing the DRC.

The DRC is seeking compensation from Uganda in respect of acts of looting, destruction and removal of property that was allegedly committed when its troops invaded in 1999.

Presenting Uganda's case, a professor of public international law at the University of Oxford, Ian Brownlie, said DRC's claims that Uganda was responsible under international law presumed that Uganda was an occupying power in the DRC.

"If a belligerent occupation had existed, then Uganda would have had a power of administration recognised by the law of armed conflict," Brownlie said. "The Uganda Government has by its conduct demonstrated that it did not claim a power of administration in the relevant areas."

Uganda's attorney-general, Khiddu Makubuya, further said that in seeking to have the issues brought before the ICJ, the DRC was being "inconsistent" with the terms of the 2002 Luanda Peace Agreement in which "both Uganda and the DRC agreed to find a mutually acceptable formula for resolving any existing or arising legal issues between them".

"[The] most enduring way for the court to contribute to the peaceful resolution of this dispute is to encourage the parties to abide by their undertaking to find a mutually acceptable formula for achieving that resolution," he told the judges.

The judges are not expected to render a verdict for several months, an ICJ representative said.

The ICJ only settles disputes between states when the states involved have agreed to the court's arbitration. The DRC and Uganda have accepted the compulsory jurisdiction of the court.

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