Govt Drafting New Amnesty Law – Minister

Government has embarked on a process to reintroduce amnesty for repentant combatants. The official pardon extended to combatants who renounced rebellion against government ceased last May following the lapse of Part 2 of the Amnesty Act.

At the time, government declined to extend the provision for pardon despite pleas from sections of the public. A year later, however, it has emerged that government is in the process of restoring the legislation that grants forgiveness to those who would denounce rebellion against the government.

James Baba, the Minister of State for Internal Affairs told press on Friday that the Justice, Law and Order Sector (JLOS) was leading the process to draft a new law that would provide amnesty. He said the law is expected to replace the current Amnesty Act 2000.

Baba explained that the new law could be in place within a year. He said the legislation would make provisions for both victims of rebellions and the actual rebels who chose to renounce the activity. He added that the new law would also give specifications on who qualifies for pardon unlike the open definition that existed in the Part 2 of the Amnesty Act 2000 that lapsed last May.

The minister also said government would extend the Amnesty Act 2000, which is due to expire on May 23 by two more years to cover for the time it would take to enact the new law. The Amnesty Act provides for the establishment and operation of the Amnesty Commission. The extension would follow a resolution by parliament to grant new lease of life to the legislation.

Moses Drako, the spokesperson of Amnesty Commission, told our reporter that at least 26,300 former combatants had benefited from the pardon by the time it expired last year. He however said the Commission was finding difficulty in facilitating the return, resettlement and reintegration of the former combatants in the absence of a law providing for the pardon.

The Amnesty Act was enacted to help end conflicts in the country by encouraging people involved in acts of war in various parts of the country since 1986 to receive pardon upon renouncing their activities.

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