War Crimes Court Yet To Decide On Kwoyelo Case

2005 Views Gulu, Uganda

In short
The International Crimes Division (ICD) of the High Court has said it is preparing to pronounce itself on the constitutional court ruling last directing for Col. Thomas Kwoyelo’s release.

The International Crimes Division (ICD) of the High Court has said it is preparing to pronounce itself on the constitutional court ruling last directing for Col. Thomas Kwoyelo’s release.
 
Kwoyelo, a former Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) commander was on trial in the ICD for war crimes allegedly commuted during the LRA war in northern Uganda, before the higher court ruled last week that he entitled to amnesty.
 
The ICD has not yet made any official reaction since last Thursday when the Constitutional court ruled that Kwoyelo should be set free. The ruling means that the war crimes court would cease its prosecution of its first suspect even before calling any of the over 60 witnesses it has lined up to prosecute the suspect who is charged with 53 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity.
 
Tadeo Asiimwe, the registrar of the International Crimes Division court told Uganda Radio Network today that all the judges at the court have been away in South Africa, adding that none of them at the court has yet read the contents of the ruling. He however said that they are set to review the ruling before deciding on the next course of action.
 
//Cue in: “We have not set any program…”
Cue out: “…been out of the country.”//
 
It remains unclear what decision the war crimes court will take but the constitutional court in its ruling last week directed that the prosecution of the suspect should be stopped.
 
The prosecution of Kwoyelo has been a centre of huge interest among the public as many people believed the process would provide an opportunity to try both the suspect and the transitional justice mechanisms available in the country.
 
Asiimwe says that the ICD court would announce by mid week an appropriate step after consultations with the judges. Three Judges, Dan Akiiki Kizza, Elisabeth Ibanda Nahamya and Alphonse Cigamoi Owiny Dollo, are leading the trial of the former LRA rebel commander, the first to be produced before court for crimes allegedly committed during the two-decade insurgency in northern Uganda.
 
While a section of the community in Amuru and Gulu district where the suspect is alleged to have committed the crimes say they welcome the ruling, Amnesty International, a human rights body has described the ruling as a ‘set back’. It added that according to International law, Uganda should not grant amnesty to individuals who have committed crimes of that nature.
 
The rights body is calling for thorough investigation and prosecutions of all crimes committed during the insurgency on both the rebels and government sides.