The End of Amnesty in Uganda: Implications for LRA Defections

 

The Ugandan government’s decision to end amnesty for fighters from the Lord’s Resistance Army, or LRA, in May 2012 is causing significant upheaval in LRA-affected communities and creating major obstacles to finally ending the LRA. Former rebels fear that they will face prosecution and are certain that the removal of amnesty will discourage future defections and escapes from the LRA. In this paper, the Enough Project proposes a 3-part plan to achieve greater defections from the LRA while addressing the need for justice and truth-seeking.

GULU, Uganda — Uganda’s Amnesty Act was enacted in 2000 as a tool to end rebellions in Uganda by encouraging rebels to lay down their arms without the fear of prosecution for crimes committed during the fight against the government. The promise of amnesty and reintegration has played a vital role in motivating fighters to escape or defect from the Lord’s Resistance Army.

The Amnesty Act has three main functions: providing amnesty to rebels who renounce rebellion and give up their arms; facilitating an institutionalized resettlement and repatriation process; and providing reintegration support, including skills training for ex-combatants, and promoting reconciliation. The act also establishes an Amnesty Commission tasked with implementing the act and issuing certificates of amnesty. As of May 2012, a total of 26,288 rebels from 29 different rebel groups had received amnesty. Of these, 12,971 are former combatants from the LRA.