Human Rights Groups, African Civic Leaders Urge Uganda to Reinstate LRA Amnesty, Promote Accountability
WASHINGTON and GULU – 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.
Well before the United Nations Group of Experts released its interim report on the current situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo on June 21, it had created a massive stir. Details of the investigation had been leaked, revealing that evidence had been found linking the Rwandan government to the infamous March 23 Movement, or M23. Read More »
This month, Gambia-born lawyer Fatou Bensouda assumed the high profile position of chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court. This profile provides some details her background, both professionally and personally. It is part of the series Enough 101. Read More »
On June 19, Obama administration officials and advocacy group representatives from the U.S. and Africa met on Capitol Hill to testify before Congress’ Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission about the continuing human rights crisis caused by the Lord’s Resistance Army. While government officials painted a rosy picture of the current status of the U.S. military advisors, advocates used this opportunity to sound the alarm and highlight severe shortcomings that threaten the success of the advisors’ deployment and other U.S. efforts. Read More »
Along the remote border frontiers of Congo, the Central African Republic, or CAR, and South Sudan, an underreported yet highly devastating refugee crisis continues to unfold. Hundreds of thousands of people, having fled from the vicious, predatory violence of the Lord’s Resistance Army, or LRA, eke out a precarious existence as refugees and internally displaced people in an extremely underdeveloped region of the world. In keeping with the spirit of this past Wednesday’s World Refugee Day, Enough takes a moment to reflect on the plight and courage of these individuals. Read More »
In light of mounting evidence of the Rwandan government’s support of Bosco Ntaganda and the rebellious M23 movement, the U.S. government must critically re-evaluate its military and development aid and foreign policy strategy vis-à-vis Kigali and urge further high-level investigations into the alleged incidents of Rwandan interference. Read More »
The secretary-general’s report comes at a critical time, as the first three months of this year saw a major upswing in LRA activity, with 53 LRA attacks, abductions, and other incidents reported in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic. Read More »
Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo and Washington, D.C. -- Recent reports by Human Rights Watch and the United Nations have uncovered a scandal in central Africa: that Rwanda has allegedly been aiding and abetting the M-23 rebellion in neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo with recruits, weapons, and ammunition. If proven true, these allegations are in violation of several international laws and agreements.
In response to these allegations, the Enough Project released this statement:
The Enough Project calls on the United States and United Kingdom, which have been Rwanda’s most prominent allies and robust international donors, to recognize the recent reports’ allegations and immediately launch a transparent international investigation into Rwanda’s involvement in the conflict in eastern Congo. Based on the outcomes of that investigation, the U.S, U.K., and other donors should review their current policy on aid structures and support to Kigali to send a clear signal that manipulation of security and political structures in eastern Congo is unacceptable.
This should be combined with a new focus on how to bring the Rwandan Hutu militia FDLR to an end, thus removing Rwanda's main stated reason for its continuing security interest in eastern Congo.
For years, the U.S. and other donor countries have overlooked Rwanda's interventions in eastern Congo, focusing instead on positive gains in development policy and economic growth within Rwanda without asking questions about how those economic gains have been generated. However, these most recent allegations of Rwanda's efforts to maintain a foothold in the Kivus cannot be ignored.
Yesterday’s statement from the U.S. Department of State on the situation in eastern Congo fails to address the gravity of the allegations against Rwanda. Further, the statement shows no indication of the U.S. taking additional steps to investigate, despite the hundreds of millions of dollars in U.S. taxpayer-funded initiatives to mitigate the conflict and ongoing humanitarian crisis in eastern Congo.
Enough is a project of the Center for American Progress to end genocide and crimes against humanity. Founded in 2007, the Enough Project focuses on crises in Sudan, eastern Congo, and areas of Africa affected by the Lord’s Resistance Army. Enough’s strategy papers and briefings provide sharp field analysis and targeted policy recommendations based on a “3P” crisis response strategy: promoting durable peace, providing civilian protection, and punishing perpetrators of atrocities. Enough works with concerned citizens, advocates, and policy makers to prevent, mitigate, and resolve these crises. For more information, please visit www.enoughproject.org.