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The Status Amnesty in Uganda (Part 2)

On May 23, 2012, under statutory instrument No. 34 of 2012, the Minister of Internal Affairs, Eng. Hillary Onek (M.P) declared the Lapse of operation of Part II of the Amnesty Act Cap. 294, by virtue of section 16(3) of the Act. The Minister also under Statutory Instrument No. 35 of 2012 extended the expiry period of Part I, III, and IV of the Amnesty Act Cap. 294 for a period of 12 months by virtue of Section 16(2) of the Act.

 The declaration of Lapse of Part II of the Amnesty Act is legal. It is based on Section 16(3) of the Amnesty Act( as amended in 2006) which provides that; “ The Minister may by statutory instrument, declare the lapse of the operation of Part II of this Act”.


What are the implications of the Declaration of Lapse of Part II of the Act?

By declaration of the Lapse of Part II of this Act, Amnesty in Uganda has ceased. Hence it is non existent. Before its Lapse; Part II of the Amnesty Act concerned itself with provisions of the law relating to the grant of Amnesty as well as the procedures for the grant of Amnesty.

According to the then Section 2 of the Amnesty Act; An amnesty was declared in respect of any Ugandan who at any time since the 26th day of January, 1986, engaged in or was engaging in war or armed rebellion against the Government of the Republic of Uganda by—actual participation in combat; collaborating with the perpetrators of the war or armed rebellion; committing any other crime in the furtherance of the war or armed rebellion; or assisting or aiding the conduct or prosecution of the war or armed rebellion.


This meant that persons granted amnesty through the issuance of amnesty certicates, would not be subjected to prosectution or any form of punishment for the participation in the war or rebellion.


The Current status of the law is that; from the 25th May 2012 (day on which the Law took eftect), any person enagaging in war or armed rebellion against the Government of Uganda, shall if investigated be prosecuted and punished for such crime if found guilty.


What is the implication for those already issued Amnesty Certificates?

It is important to note that; those already issued amnesty certificates are still protected by the law. According to Article 28(5)(f) of the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda; “ No person shall be tried for a criminal offence if the person shows that he or she has been pardoned in respect of that offence” THEREFORE, THEY WILL NOT BE PROSECUTED FOR CRIMES FOR WHICH THEY HAVE ALREADY RECEIVED AMNESTY/PARDON.

 

What is the Future of the Amnesty Commission?

Part I, III and IV of the Amnesty Act were extended under Statutory Instrument No. 35 of 2012 for a period of 12 months. Part III of the Act, establishes the Amnesty commission, a demobilization and resettlement team, and elaborates its functions among other provisions.

Extension of Part III means that the Amnesty Commission shall continue discharging its duties of demobilization, reintegration, resettlement of reporters, and sensitization of the general public on the Amnesty Law and promote appropriate reconciliation mechanisms to affected communities. All this will be done during the one year extension period.

In short, the Amnesty Commission will continue resettling, demobilizing and reintegrating those reporters/persons who have already received amnesty.


Part IV of the Act provides for the duration of the Act and prescribes for regulations for the resettlement of persons and generally for better carrying out the provisions and principles of the Act.