Constitutional Court’s Ruling on Thomas Kwoyelo: Reflections on the Relationship between Amnesty and Forgiveness
affiliation not provided to SSRN
January 5, 2012
The Uganda’s Constitutional Court made a significant decision in September 2011 that Thomas Kwoyelo, a rebel commander of an organization called the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), was entitled to an amnesty which was held to connote “a pardon, forgiveness, exemption or discharge from criminal prosecution or any other form of punishment by the state.” Given the Court’s definitional scope of amnesty in relation to forgiveness, does amnesty then share anything with forgiveness? Or, are they mutually exclusive? This article examines the relationship between amnesty and forgiveness in the context of Kwoyelo’s claim to eligibility for the amnesty; it analyses the counterpositional aspects of the amnesty and forgiveness; and, it concludes that amnesty and forgiveness are coterminous in relation to their motivation, justification and outcomes, and that they are both capable of serving as an essentially a pragmatic tool kit to secure a political settlement within a polity divided by violent conflicts. This article intends to contribute to the debate about the relationship between amnesty and forgiveness, as well make recommendations to policy-makers and organizations operating in armed conflict hotspots, on the utility of the two concepts in de-escalating conflict and preventing further atrocities.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 21
Date posted: January 5, 2012
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