Amnesty for Ugandan guerilla troops slap in face to sexual assault victims
By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
6/12/2014 (2 years ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
While some may see it as an opportunity for a nation to move forward and to heal the wounds of war, for many others it comes as a rude slap to the face. Thousands of former fighters have been pardoned under Uganda's Amnesty Act. Guerilla warfare in the northern part of that African nation saw rape and other forms of sexual assault to brutalize and demoralize countless women, men and child civilians.
While some may see it as an opportunity for the nation of Uganda to move forward and to heal the wounds of war, for many others it comes as a rude slap to the face.
LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Many view the amnesty as a betrayal of their victims and has derailed attempts to bring the guilty to justice, a rights campaigner said this week.
"The issue of amnesty in Uganda is stifling the ability of the domestic war crimes court to prosecute," Brigid Inger, executive director of the Women's Initiatives for Gender Justice declared. She made her remarks at a global summit in London on tackling sexual violence in conflict.
Thousands of these former guerilla fighters have been pardoned under Uganda's Amnesty Act. The gesture was intended to bring an end to a war which raged for two decades. Warlord Joseph Kony, with his heinous Lord's Resistance Army, committed untold atrocities against civilians. Thousands of young children at that time were abducted and used as soldiers and sex slaves.
Inger said it was very hard for survivors because those responsible for serious crimes were not required to provide any confession, or information about crimes they had witnessed or were involved in. They were also not required to provide an apology to victims prior to receiving a full and unconditional pardon.
"This is making the job of the prosecutor at the (domestic) war crimes court impossible and has already stifled at least one case and others are also being held up because of the issue at the amnesty act," she added.
The incident shows the problems that are inherent when unconditional pardons are introduced during peace efforts, Inger said.
Amnesty was appropriate for fighters who had been abducted and forced to join the LRA, she said but "there's a sense of disappointment and bitterness" in northern Uganda because of the way the amnesty has stymied justice.
"In many respects it's a betrayal of victims . and from our perspective it's bad law," she said.
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