Africa court orders government to pay LRA’s Kwoyelo

Thomas Kwoyelo (centre) at the Gulu High Court in 2016 where he appeared before Justice Suzan Okalany. File photo

Kampala- An African court has ordered government to pay compensatory damages to former rebel commander with the Lord Resistance Army (LRA) Thomas Kwoyelo for violating his rights, including delayed trial.

The orders were made by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights in its ruling held at its 62nd ordinary session in Banjul in Gambia last week.

According to the orders, Kwoyelo should be compensated basing on “international standards.”

“In view of the above, the commission hereby orders the government of Uganda to pay adequate compensation to the victim (Kwoyelo) for the violation of Articles 3 and 7 (1) (a) and (d) of the African Charter,” ruled the African Commission

“In accessing the manner and mode of payment of the compensation, the government of Uganda shall consult the victim and his legal representatives (Onyango & Co. Advocates) and shall be guided by international norms and practices relating to payment of compensatory damages,” the court added.

The commission also ordered the government to report back on progress of Kwoyelo’s compensation within a period not less than 180 days (six months).

The commission castigated the Supreme Court of Uganda for its failure to provide reasons for its decision when it stayed the execution of consequential orders of the Constitutional Court.

The Constitutional Court had in 2010 ruled that Kwoyelo was eligible for amnesty before ordering for his release but the State appealed to the Supreme Court, that halted his release and later ordered for his trial before the International Crimes Division. “The commission further rules that the unjustified delay in the hearing of the appeal before the Supreme Court caused by lack of coram, partially violated Article 7 (1) (d) of the Charter,” ruled the commission

The ruling was prompted by the filing of a complaint by Kwoyelo’s lawyers on October 19, 2012.

His lawyers had argued that their client applied for amnesty with the Amnesty Commission, which granting him but the office of the Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP), refused to issue the certificate of amnesty on grounds that he was a suspected criminal.

The refusal was then brought to the attention of the Constitutional Court that ruled that the former LRA rebel was eligible to be given an amnesty certificate just like other rebels who had applied before and after his application.

Deciding on this issue of amnesty, the commission observed that the Amnesty Commission never declared any reporter ineligible for amnesty before issuing amnesty certificates to 24,000 former rebels and excluded Kwoyelo.

Two weeks ago, Kwoyelo’s trial was deferred to November 5 after his lawyers said he received a poorly translated copy of charges.
He was returned to Luzira prison where he has been held for the last eight years.