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African Commission on Human Rights To Debate Kwoyelo Case

Kwoyelo is currently fighting for his rights to liberty against the government of Uganda, arguing that he is being held illegally after the constitutional court ordered his release. But the Gambian-based continental body has indicated that it will decide on Kwoyelo’s complaint of illegal detention by the Ugandan government at its next extra ordinary sitting next month.
Thomas Kwoyelo, the former commander of the rebel Lord’s Resistance Army may have reasons to smile following a response to his complaint by the African Commission on People’s and Human Rights.

 

Kwoyelo is currently fighting for his rights to liberty against the government of Uganda, arguing that he is being held illegally after the constitutional court ordered his release. But the Gambian-based body has indicated that it will decide on Kwoyelo’s complaint of illegal detention by the Ugandan government at its next extra ordinary sitting next month.

 

Mary Maboreke, the secretary of the African Commission on People’s and Human Rights, in a letter to John Francis Onyango, Kwoyelo’s lawyer, said that the appeal had formally been received and a decision over it would be made after the weeklong session that begins on February 18.

 

Maboreke was responding to an application, which Onyango submitted in October last year. In the application, Onyango asked the African court to reverse the continued illegal detention of his client.

 

Onyango argued that the government of Uganda has violated various charters of the Commission that it ratified in May 1986. He notes that Kwoyelo, a former child soldier and commander in the Lord’s Resistance Army, surrendered, was shot and severely wounded in combat while in the Democratic Republic of Congo but has since then remained in prison even after courts upheld his application for amnesty and ordered an end to trial against him.

 

Kwoyelo initially appeared before the High Court’s International Crimes Division and the Constitutional Court, which both ordered for his release. However, the matter was taken to the Supreme Court that is yet to sit to hear the case. He faced 12 counts and 53 alternative charges amounting to crimes against humanity under the Geneva Convention and other Penal legislations in Uganda.

 

Onyango has described the response by the African Commission as a positive step and now wants it to consider the violations and provide compensation to his client, in addition to asking government to uphold the laws requiring it to defend and protect human rights.

 

Kwoyelo’s petition is the first against the Ugandan government before the African Court on People’s and Human Rights. However, the court has so far received over twenty cases against states such as Tanzania, Sudan, South Africa and Kenya since it began operating seven years ago.

 

The African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights is a continental court established by African countries to ensure protection of human and peoples’ rights on the continent, and complements the functions of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights.

 

While the case is the first from Uganda, the court is no stranger to the country. Former Supreme Court Justices George Kanyeihamba and Joseph Nyamihana Mulenga, both Ugandans have served before the court. Kanyeihamba served between 2006 and 2008 while Mulenga’s six year term ended last year. Mulenga died in August last year.

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