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LRA's Kwoyelo Trial: State Attorneys Challenge Amnesty Act

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However, the state argues that LRA commanders like Kwoyelo shouldn’t benefit from the act and that the law should be reviewed to curb impunity.
The amnesty act has exceeded its noble intentions and created a new reign of impunity amongst the Lord’s Resistance Army rebels, a state attorney has told the Supreme Court. Patricia Mutesi argues that the continuous extension of the amnesty act by parliament gives the rebels an assurance that they will be pardoned anytime they surrender. Mutesi said this on Wednesday while defending an application by the state challenging the constitutional court ruling to have Thomas Kwoyelo, a former LRA commander released and granted amnesty.

The act which, has been at the center of Kwoyelo’s war crimes trial has been extended twice since it was enacted by Parliament in 2000. However, the state argues that LRA commanders like Kwoyelo shouldn’t benefit from the act and that the law should be reviewed to curb impunity. In their prayer, the state attorneys asked court to set aside the constitutional court decision to free Kwoyelo and let his trial resume at the war crimes division court in Gulu. 

Mutesi also told court that the amnesty doesn’t apply to perpetrators of war crimes meted out on civilians though it covers those who have committed atrocities like killing of rival soldiers during war. However, Nicholas Opiyo, one of the counsels for Kwoyelo told court that it is unprecedented in Uganda that the government challenges its own laws.  Caleb Alaka, Kwoyelo’s lead lawyer argued that the state was giving Kwoyelo unequal treatment before the law. Alaka argued that other rebels of an even higher rank than Kwoyelo like Brig Sam Kolo had been granted amnesty. 

He also rubbished the state’s claim to have the amnesty law set aside by the court. A visibly relaxed Kwoyelo was in attendance at the court room. He was however not allowed to speak to the media. Kwoyelo has been in detention since his capture in 2008. Court will set a date to deliver judgment on the state application.

 

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