Amnesty Commission Stuck with No mandate

Established to help, wants to help but cannot help.

The Amnesty Commission is facing a dilemma of failure to offer a service it was established to do: helping combatants who have denounced rebellion secure pardon.

Nearly a year after the lapse of the Amnesty Act part II that provided for the pardon, thousands of abducted persons are still missing, according to a report.

Established by the Amnesty Act 2000, the Amnesty Commission was intended to among other functions help end hostilities, foster reconciliation and deliver peace and security. However, government in May 2012 opted not to renew the legislation especially making it impossible for the Commission to continue facilitating the reintegration of the combatants who wished to denounce fighting.

Moses Drako, the spokesperson of the Amnesty Commission told the media that at least 26,300 former combatants abandoned rebellion and returned to their homes after they received pardon under the arrangement.

He explains that while the process was easier while the pardon existed, currently, it is not possible. He however said they were helping the former rebels and those conscripted into rebel ranks to trace their families.

A 2012 survey by Justice and Reconciliation Project, an organization based in Gulu says that 1,036 people abducted from Gulu district alone were still missing. The report cites statistics by Children and Youth as Peace builders, a Community based organization saying that many families were still missing between one to three family members.

It added that many survivors of the war fought between the government and the Lord’s Resistance Army rebels were in suspense over the fate of their missing relatives with many not able to tell whether they were alive or dead. The report also said there was need to ascertain the fate of the missing persons to help the community recover fully.

In the absence of a law recognizing the process to forgive and reintegrate the former combatants, there is unlikelihood of any help. Drako explains that the Amnesty Commission has activities intended to resettle and integrate the formerly abducted persons and former combatants, an assistance, which does not extend to those who have continued to return after the lapse of the amnesty.

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