24 January 2013

Uganda: Onek Wants Amnesty Commission to Wrap Up

Internal affairs minister Hillary Onek is seeking to have the activities of the Amnesty Commission wound up, according to the chairperson of the parliamentary committee on defence and internal affairs.

Milton Muwuma said the minister has also sought a repeal of Part 11 of the Amnesty Act, which provides for blanket amnesty.

The minister, Muwuma added, stated that after May 2013, the commission should wind up its activities. "He feels that courts should be responsible for clearing those who want amnesty," Muwuma said.

He added that blanket amnesty ought to stop so that it is granted on a case by case basis, depending on who is seeking it and the crime committed.

The Amnesty Act commenced in January 21, 2000. Under the original Act, amnesty is granted to any Ugandan who has at any one time since January 26, 1986 engaged in or is engaging in war or armed rebellion against the Government.

This could be by actual participation in combat, collaborating with perpetrators of war and by committing any other crime in the furtherance of war or armed rebellion.

A person granted amnesty is not subjected to any form of punishment for participating in war or rebellion.

However, a group of people from northern Uganda, including religious and traditional leaders as well as civil society organisations, have opposed the move to scrap unconditional amnesty, arguing that there are still so many people out there who want to benefit from it.

Fears have also been expressed concerning bureaucracy in courts.

A petition from the religious and traditional leaders and civil society organisations is under consideration by the committee.

The committee was scheduled to meet officials from the defence and internal affairs ministries to discuss the matter further.

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