Temporary Certificate for Kwoyelo - Amnesty Commission

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Joe Wacha

Lucy Lapoti (right) at a meeting of Northern Uganda Transition Justice Working Group

In short
Thomas Kwoyelo, a former commander of the Lord’s Resistance Army will get a temporary amnesty certificate if he gets released from Luzira prison, according to the Amnesty Commission.

Thomas Kwoyelo, a former commander of the Lord’s Resistance Army will get a temporary amnesty certificate if he gets released from Luzira prison, according to the Amnesty Commission.
 
The Amnesty Act 2000 stipulates that an amnesty certificate is only given to reporters who have renounced rebellion and fulfilled required steps to confirm that they require pardon.
 
In November last year, the International Crimes Division of the High Court stopped the trial of Kwoyelo on the same day his prosecution begun when his lawyers challenged grounds on which he was denied amnesty.
 
The constitutional court also ruled that the war crimes suspect was entitled to amnesty and should be set free, a ruling that left many puzzled. Many months afterwards, the suspect is still in prison leaving many even more puzzled than they were after the ruling.
 
However, the Amnesty Commission has now said they are ready to grant Kwoyelo a temporary certificate. Lucy Lapoti, a communications official at Amnesty Commission in Gulu says that the organization would only issue a temporary certificate because its chairman, whose term of office expired last year along with the other six commissioners, has not yet been replaced.
 
Lapoti added that the case has been the same with other reporters who returned from captivity over the last many months adding that they have not denied Kwoyelo an amnesty certificate.
 
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She explained that along with the absence of the commissioners, the Amnesty Commission has been facing shortage of funding, which she said has crippled many of their activities. Lapoti said despite the conditions, there have been many rebel combatants and abductees who have since returned home and admitted and counseled at rehabilitation centers.
 
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The delay by government to speed up the process of appointing new commissioners as well as funding the institution has raised questions about its lack of interest in the work of the organization but Jacob Oulanya, the deputy Speaker of Parliament said over the weekend in Gulu that government would extend the Amnesty Act 2000 for two more years to facilitate the return of more combatants.
 
The Amnesty Act provides that the president should appoint seven persons headed by a High Court judge with the approval of parliament to oversee the work of the Amnesty Commission, which includes releasing someone from armed forces, reintegrating them into the society and encouraging reconciliation among others.
 
Justice Peter KK Onega has been the chairperson of the Commission since it was created.

 

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