Constitutional Court Sets Kwoyelo Free

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In short
The Constitutional Court in Kampala on Thursday ruled that former LRA rebel commander Col. Thomas Kwoyelo is entitled to receive amnesty just like others who renounced rebellion. This effectively quashes Kwoyelo’s trial at the International Crimes Division of the high court.

The Constitutional Court in Kampala on Thursday ruled that former LRA rebel commander Col. Thomas Kwoyelo is entitled to receive amnesty just like others who renounced rebellion.
This effectively quashes Kwoyelo’s trial at the International Crimes Division of the high court.
Kwoyelo was captured on March 2nd 2009 from Garamba forest in the Democratic Republic of Congo by the UPDF soldiers and was remanded to Luzira prison from where he applied for amnesty.
 
Government however denied him amnesty and instead charged him before the International Crimes Division of the High Court of Uganda in Gulu.
 
Kwoyelo was charged with 53 counts of willful killing, kidnap and torture in northern Uganda between 1993 and 2005 during the LRA rebellion but he denies all the charges.
 
Through his lawyers, Caleb Alaka and John Francis Onyango, Kwoyelo petitioned the constitutional court to rule on whether the act of the Amnesty commission and the Director of Public Prosecutions in failing to grant him amnesty, is not discriminatory.
 
They argued that government could not deny the former rebel amnesty yet it granted amnesty to over 2000 other people who committed crimes of similar nature.
 
His lawyers argued that Kwoyelo, like other combatants who have either renounced or abandoned rebellion deserves to benefit from the amnesty law which other former rebels have enjoyed.
 
They argued that failure by Amnesty Commission and DPP to grant their client amnesty is inconsistent with article 1, 2, 20 and 21 of the constitution.  
 
In their ruling today, the five judges of the constitutional court led by Justice Amos Twinomujuni agreed that state can not deny Kwoyelo Amnesty yet it granted the certificate of Amnesty to more than 26,000 people that committed similar offences. They unanimously agreed that the former rebel commander be granted Amnesty and accordingly directed that prosecution against him to be stopped.
 
The five justices ordered that the file be forwarded back to the lower court with direction that it must cease the trial of the applicant (Kwoyelo) forthwith.

Moments after court, a jubilant Kwoyelo was seen hugging his lawyers for the work well done. He however has to remain in custody until his case comes up for termination in Gulu.

Government has granted amnesty to former top LRA commanders including brigadiers Sam Kolo and Kenneth Banya.

 

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