May 16, 2013

Parliament Approves Extension of Amnesty Act 2000

Parliament has endorsed a report by the Defense and Internal Affairs Committee recommending the extension of amnesty act for two more years.

The Act came into effect in 2000 to provide pardon and reintegration of former rebels of the Lord’s Resistance Army-LRA, but it elapsed in 2012. Led by Milton Muwuma, the Defense and Internal Affairs Committee proposes the extension of the amnesty period for two years to allow inductees into the LRA rebel ranks as well as fighter renounce rebellion.

MPs have welcomed the proposal to extend the act. Judith Frank Akello, the Agago district Woman says the extension will benefit the whole country and not just Northern Uganda. Christine Bako, the Arua Woman MP tasked Hilary Onek, the Internal Affairs Minister to explain why on low cadre rebels are given amnesty while the top commanders are tossed around. She claims that this is one of the reasons why some of the people who are still in captivity are resisting denouncing rebellion.

Bako also says that while Uganda was in support of the creation of South Sudan, they had an engagement with the rebel group fighting the Khartoum administration. It is also true that the Khartoum administration supports the LRA thus in the context of extending the amnesty act, Bako appeals to government to check its relationship on the continent especially where it has strategic interests.

Crispus Ayena, the Oyam MP sent the house in laughter when he prayed that government extends amnesty to include those who apprehend aggressive action when they return such as General David Sejusa so that he can come and apologize.

Wafula Ogutu noted that Uganda is still at war with soldiers still in the Central African Republic, others are running out of the country thus the need for amnesty. He said there is need to discuss why people are running away arguing that the conditions for rebellion are created by those in power.

Hillary Onek, the minister for internal affairs told Parliament that they are working on a comprehensive law with the Judiciary that does not have loopholes that can be exploited by wrong doers with the Judiciary before it is brought to the floor of Parliament.

Jacob Oulanyah, the Deputy Speaker wondered what happens now when there is no law since the act expires on the 24th of this month. Fred Ruhindi, the deputy attorney general noted that the legal challenge is that they cannot revive part two of the amnesty act that grants blanket amnesty for former rebels upon renouncing rebellion. He advised that Parliament will have to wait until the new law is tabled by the minister.

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