Amnesty Act Encourages Rebel Activity – Govt

Although the Amnesty Act was passed to try to end rebel activity, the government now believes the act does the complete opposite.

The state last week asked the Supreme court to declare the law unconstitutional because it allegedly promotes rebellion. The declaration was sought by Principal State Attorney Patricia Mutesi, in an appeal lodged in the Supreme court that aims to stop the release of former LRA commander Col Thomas Kwoyelo from Luzira prison.

In July 2011, Kwoyelo was charged with murder, hostage taking, and other crimes related to his time with the Lord’s Resistance Army rebels. Before Kwoyelo could be prosecuted in the War Crimes division of the High court, the Constitutional court ordered his release on grounds that he deserved amnesty just like others who had renounced rebellion.

This led to the present appeal by the state, now before Justices Bart Katureebe, John Wilson Nattubu Tsekooko, Benjamin Odoki, Jotham Tumwesigye, Galdino Okello, Esther Kisaakye Mayambala and Christine Kitumba.

Mutesi argued that the act violates Article 22(1) of the Constitution by impeding the trial of rebels. She said it also violated Article 24 of the Constitution, which outlaws torture. Instead, Mutesi said, people now go into rebellion freely, knowing that if they are arrested, they will get amnesty.

Mutesi submitted that the act also violated the Geneva Convention and Rome statute that Uganda had already ratified. But Kwoyelo’s legal team, led by Caleb Alaka, asked court to dismiss the appeal, arguing that there was nothing in international conventions prohibiting states from granting amnesty.

Alaka said it would be unfair for Kwoyelo to stand trial since he became a rebel after being abducted by LRA rebels in 1986 when he was just 13. Kwoyelo’s lawyers argued that it was unfair to deny him amnesty yet the central government had granted amnesty to other former top LRA commanders, including brigadiers Sam Kolo and Kenneth Banya.

The judgment will be delivered on notice.

Source : The Observer

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