Journal Article

Reshaping Amnesty in Uganda

Paul Bradfield

in Journal of International Criminal Justice

Volume 15, issue 4, pages 827-855
Published in print September 2017 | ISSN: 1478-1387
Published online October 2017 | e-ISSN: 1478-1395 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/jicj/mqx047
Reshaping Amnesty in Uganda

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Abstract

For over 15 years, the state of Uganda granted amnesty to thousands of people from various rebel groups through the passing of the Amnesty Act 2000. This landmark legislation purported to offer a formal promise from the state that recipients of amnesty would not be prosecuted for their participation in armed rebellion. Over 13,000 former Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) combatants availed themselves of this amnesty. That is, until one LRA commander, Thomas Kwoyelo (aka Latoni), was arrested. His application for, and ultimate denial of, the amnesty certificate that was granted to thousands of other LRA fighters, has significant consequences for the amnesty project in Uganda. In 2015, the Supreme Court of Uganda ruled that Kwoyelo was not entitled to amnesty because of the grave nature of the acts he is alleged to have committed. This important ruling significantly departs from the local understanding of amnesty in Uganda: what it was, what it covered, and what it protected the recipient from. This article proceeds to examine the creation of the Amnesty Act, its legislative history, the intricacies of Kwoyelo case, and the Supreme Court judgment itself. Ultimately, this article argues that the Kwoyelo judgment redefines the prevailing meaning of amnesty, with potentially far-reaching social and legal consequences for post-conflict Uganda.

Journal Article.  14127 words. 

Subjects: Criminal Law ; International Law ; International Criminal Law ; International Humanitarian Law ; Transnational Crime

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