New Vision (Kampala)

20 July 2012

Uganda: 'Amnesty Law Stopped Operating Last May'

Internal Affairs Minister Hillary Onek has clarified that Amnesty law stopped operating in May this year.

The minister was opening a-one-day validation workshop by Justice, Law and Order Sector (JLOS) of report on the use of traditional justice and truth-telling mechanisms in the promotion of accountability and reconciliation in Uganda held at Imperial Royal Hotel, Kampala.

"I would like to clarify misconceptions about the status of the Amnesty Law. On May 23, 2012, through statutory instrument 34 of 2012, Part II of the Amnesty Act expired. The implication of this is that the Amnesty Commission will no longer issue amnesty certificates to individuals who return from rebellion seeking amnesty for crimes committed during war or rebellion against the Government of Uganda," Onek said.

However, the minister said that those granted amnesty were still protected under the confines of our law from prosecution for the crimes they received amnesty. They should continue reporting to the Amnesty Commission so that they are reintegrated, resettled and reconciled with their communities.

Senior Principal State Attorney in the Directorate of Public Prosecutions Joan Kagezi to go and tell the people that Amnesty Part II lapsed.

Delivering a key note address, the Chief justice, Benjamin Odoki, encouraged the Government to look beyond the formal process of the peace recovery and development program (PRDP) and embrace a holistic and complementary system to find lasting and sustainable solutions for the communities that have been devastated by conflict for decades.

Traditional and religious leaders from the war ravaged regions urged the Government to work hand-in-hand with them to ensure permanent peace and reconciliation.

The Prime Minister of Lango Cultural Foundation retired Colonel Tony Otoa said that traditional leaders need legitimacy, so that whatever decisions they make for their communities are binding.

Retired bishop of Kitgum Diocese Baker Ochola said that LRA combatants and UPDF soldiers, who have committed serious war crimes and crimes against humanity, should be treated equally for their offences without discrimination.

"It would be of no consequence to selectively charge LRA combatants for specific crimes and leave a UPDF soldier to go scot-free, who has committed the same offence," Ochola said.

Soroti Diocese retired bishop Gerosom Ilukor said that if Uganda was to achieve peace and reconciliation, the Government should invest tangibly into educating all people irrespective of age, so that they could fully understand what it is all about.

Ilukor also urged the Government to bringing Eastern and Northern regions that suffered the most atrocities to the same standard in all aspects of life with other parts.

Representatives of Rewnzururu and Tooro kingdoms, Teso, Acholi, Alur, Bugisu and Adhola communities were also among the discussants.

Gender Minister Lukia Nakadama, State Minister for Teso Christine Aporu, Justice Alfonse Owiny-Dollo contributed to the lively workshop.

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