LLM in International Criminal Law, NUI Galway
When she applied for an Irish Aid Fellowship in 2011, Rachel worked in Uganda's Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP). Her success in obtaining a scholarship allowed her to study for an LLM in International Criminal Law at the National University of Ireland, Galway in 2012-13 before returning to the DPP.
Before coming to NUI Galway on an Irish Aid Fellowship I was working with the Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) as a Senior State Attorney, based at our headquarters in Kampala. My duties included prosecution of criminal cases in the courts, providing legal advice to the police in relation to investigations and drafting legal documents.
I felt that taking an LLM in International Criminal Law would be a way to expand my knowledge in criminal law internationally and enable me to integrate with the recently created International War Crimes Division that I hope to be part of on my return. The Division aims at indicting people who’ve committed war crimes and crimes against humanity, like Kony of the Lords Resistance Army and other commanders. I’ve found this course very relevant to my career. And, of course, after eight years out of college it’s good to refresh your mind.
This course has been very practical as well. For example, last year we visited the army barracks in Galway to become familiar with different types of weapons and learn which ones are prohibited. I also got the opportunity to hold a gun for the first time - and when you are prosecuting people for war crimes there’s a real need to know what you are talking about. I’m also looking forward to visiting the International Criminal Court at its seat in The Hague, which I know is going to be very interesting and beneficial.
When my scholarship was confirmed, it was a turning point in my life, a dream come true. Without this fellowship I could not have afforded to study here. Leaving my family to come to Ireland was very hard, because I have two children - aged three and one - but I was determined.
The study approach here is different and I’ve borrowed a lot. I’ve realised that time management is so important in everything you do and in planning ahead. My computer and research skills have developed, too, so I am managing my work efficiently. Also, the group presentations have developed my team-work skills, which are important because you get better results from managing any case as a team through shared ideas and research. The knowledge I’ve gained is invaluable.
What has caught my eye from this course is the investigative role of the prosecutor within international tribunals and courts. In Uganda, with the exception of the Fraud Unit in DPP, it’s the police that do all the investigations and submit a file to the DPP. However, if the prosecutor is mandated to investigate cases they know what they’re looking for and know the case inside-out. I intend to focus my dissertation on the results of this approach in terms of expeditious investigations and prosecutions.
When I return to Uganda, I hope to get a promotion in due course. I am very happy being part of the Directorate and grateful that they seconded me for this scholarship. Looking to the future, I definitely hope to grow in my career - the international perspective to my studies has increased my analysis of issues and broadened my reasoning. I’m confident that my service delivery will be improved when I get back to work.