WASHINGTON and GULU–(ENEWSPF)–July 3, 2012. On June 25, a coalition of 22 civil society organizations and leaders in Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan, the Central African Republic, and the United States issued a statement urging the Government of Uganda to reinstate amnesty and promote accountability for Lord’s Resistance Army, or LRA, rebels. Since the enactment of the Act in 2000, more than 26,000 former Ugandan rebels have received amnesty, of which approximately 13,000 are former LRA rebels.
On May 23, the Ugandan Minister of Internal Affairs announced the lapse of a key provision of the country’s Amnesty Act. Part II of the Act, which provided for the granting of amnesty to former rebels, was allowed to expire while the rest of the Act was renewed for 12 months.
“There is a critical window now to finally end the 25 year-long LRA war, and a key step on the path to peace is to encourage LRA combatants to lay down their arms,” said John Bradshaw, Enough Project Executive Director. “The Obama administration should urge the Ugandan government to refrain from prosecuting any LRA fighters not indicted by the International Criminal Court and consider granting them amnesty provided they go through a truth-telling transitional justice process.”
More than 30,000 LRA combatants have been abducted as children and forced against their will to fight and commit horrific atrocities.
“We want the Amnesty Act in place until a comprehensive law is in place for the transitional justice system to work,” said Kenneth Oketta, Prime Minister for Ker Kwaro Acholi, a northern Ugandan cultural organization. “Abductees are still in captivity.”
Although the LRA is no longer in Uganda, the group has continued to perpetrate grave human rights violations against civilians and pose a threat to stability in the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan, and the Central African Republic, or CAR.
“We have messages being aired in DRC, CAR and South Sudan where we are asking the rebels to take advantage of the Amnesty Act and come home,” said Archbishop John Baptist Odama of the Acholi Religious Leaders Peace Initiative. “Removing amnesty will completely undermine these efforts.”
The communique also calls for the adoption of additional procedures to promote greater accountability and reconciliation. The Ugandan government is obligated to promote reconciliation within the nation under the Ugandan constitution, Part III of the Amnesty Act, and the peace agreement relating to accountability and reconciliation signed by the government and the LRA.