• May 30, 2013
  • From the Team
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Amnesty: More than a certificate

Last week we highlighted calls from Ugandan and international civil society groups urging the Ugandan government to reinstate the amnesty provisions stripped out of Uganda’s Amnesty Act in May 2012. Encouragingly, Ugandan officials actually listened and reinstated the amnesty provisions. (See a joint civil society statement welcoming the move below).

Crucially, the reinstatement gives returnees from the LRA — with the possible exception of senior commanders — the right to receive an amnesty certificate and a reintegration package. However, the Amnesty Commission is in shambles after years of underfunding, delays in appointing top officials, and uncertainty over the future of the Act. Many of the people who have returned from the LRA in recent years have not received their entire reintegration package, and there are few organizations providing trauma healing and psychological assistance. The Commission’s credibility has also been damaged by the Ugandan military’s periodic efforts to force ex-LRA combatants into military service without an adequate opportunity to apply for amnesty. Furthermore, northern Ugandans have very complex views of amnesty, highlighting the need for returnees from the LRA to have opportunities to participate in reconciliation activities with LRA-affected communities.

The Amnesty Act has great potential as a tool to help end the LRA conflict, help returnees reintegration into society, and promote broader reconciliation, but only if we remember amnesty is more than certificate.

–Paul

Welcoming the Full Restoration and Extension of the Uganda Amnesty Act

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

GULU – We the civil society organisations, community and religious leaders welcome the decision by the Government of Uganda to reinstate Part II of the Amnesty Act, and to extend the duration of the whole Act for a further period of two years, in accordance with the recent Resolution of Parliament.

We recall with satisfaction the comprehensive and thorough Report of the Committee on Defence and Internal Affairs which reflected the views of the various stakeholders and the victim-communities, and congratulate the Government for affirming the decision and conclusions of Parliament.

We remain confident that the amnesty will continue, as before, to be a critical tool for ending conflict in Uganda, and for promoting social peace and genuine reconciliation within communities affected by the conflict.

We will endeavour to make known widely the decision of the Government to restore the amnesty, pledge to play our part in encouraging any person still involved in armed rebellion to take advantage of the restored amnesty, which is a gesture of reconciliation and goodwill on the part of the people of Uganda.

We call upon the Amnesty Commission, and the Government of Uganda as a whole, to redouble efforts to make full use of the amnesty law in promoting peace and genuine reconciliation.

We remain committed to working with the Commission, Parliament, the Government and all other stakeholders to realise lasting peace within Uganda and in any country that is affected adversely by any of Uganda’s armed rebellions.

Acholi Religious Leaders Peace Initiative
Concerned Parents Association
Conciliation Resources
Gulu NGO Forum
Human Rights Focus, Gulu
Invisible Children
Iteso Cultural Union
Justice and Peace Commission, Gulu
Ker Kwaro Acholi
Refugee Law Project
Sheik Musa Khelil – Chief Khadi of Acholi
The Resolve LRA Crisis Initiative
The Enough Project
The Rt. Rev. John Gakumba, the Lord Bishop of Northern Uganda
The Rt. Rev M. Baker Ochola – (retired Bishop, Kitgum Diocese)
The Rt. Rev Nelson Onweng – (retired Bishop, Diocese of Northern Uganda)
Uganda Historical Memory & Reconciliation Council
Uganda National Advisory Centre for Men

About the Author

Paul Ronan
Paul Ronan

Paul Ronan is Project Director for The Resolve. @pauldronan