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Posts Tagged ‘UPDF’

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Last week the UPDF capture Major General Caesar Achellam, the number three in the Lord’s Resistance Army, Joseph Kony’s vehicle of terror and misery. This man is a “big fish”, were the words of the Ugandan army’s chief spokesman. He went on to say that this man did not Get to that position by digging potatoes.

What that really means is that for the last fifteen years this man has overseen the destruction of villages, rape of women, sexual enslavement of prepubescent girls, abduction of villagers of all ages and murder…….mass murder! Of this there is no doubt. So one wonders why there is a scramble to offer him amnesty for his crimes!

In Uganda there is a constitutionally constituted ‘Amnesty Commission’ that regulates the provision of mercy to armed rebel groups. However it’s modus operandi is not very well known to the public, All one hears is that ex rebel so and so has been granted amnesty from prosecution. This is no South African style ‘truth and reconciliation’ process whereby purveyors of evil have to publicly confesses there deeds and then apologise to their victims and request them for their mercy.

Those who have already benefited from a well meaning, but warped process include several of Joseph kony’s henchmen and Maj. gen. Caesar Achellam is set to go down this path as well. The legal officer from the Amnesty Commission has already been quoted to say that he is eligible for amnesty if he only applies for it! The army has made it clear that if he cooperates and spills the beans on the LRA and the devil incarnate who leads it then amnesty from prosecution is a foregone conclusion.

A frequent fact that keeps be thrown about this man is that he is not one of the 5 LRA commanders who have been indicted by the ICC. It’s almost like this exonerates the man of his deeds.
Yet where is the justice in this for the victims of this murderous cohort, no one seems to have ever been punished for all the mayhem they have poured on the people of Acholi for two decades. Achellam did not surrender, he was captured. Achellam has not apologized, he even went so far as to say at a press conference that during his warfare training days he was told there is no such thing as saying sorry!

So why would Norbert Mao, MP for Gulu and the bishop of Gulu diocese all call for his amnesty? It boggles my mind. Have we followed the path of forgiveness too far, is it not time to take the road less travelled and charge this man in a court of law. He should be tried and and his conviction followed by punishment that fits the crime. Being the personification of evil, Maj.Gen. Achellam will have very few suitable punishments to choose from! Enough with the ‘let bygones be bygones’.

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Its been a worrisome week indeed with the spectre of military might always hanging above our heads.

 The story is of a woman who shot her soldier husband because he threw out of the house for being HIV positive and he is negative. The discordancy is bad enough, the murder is worse, but the shocker is that she, a civilian, was tried before a military court martial, based in a small upcountry town.

 Now in Uganda if you use military weapons to commit a crime, in this case an AK-47, then you can be tried in a military court. The initial target of this legal state was armed thugs who were running amok in the early part of this decade.This woman was married to a soldier, used a military owned weapon on an army base, to kill a soldier…her husband.

 With the highly militarised state that Uganda has become, it was not unexpected that the influence of the military would be extended into the realms of civilian justice. Does it make it right? I say no.

 I can only imagine what the burden of proof required to convict is and what is the quality of both the judicial bench and the military advocates/ prosecutors. If the standard of general functions of the Uganda Peoples Defence Forces is anything to go by then God help you if you get caught in this steel web.

 The civilian courts are not perfect, but they do have safe guards: capital crimes are restricted to the high courts, there is open access for the public and the media, the cases are not concluded in mater of days and executions do not follow swiftly afterwards.

 I am sure the court martials do offer safeguards, on paper, but do they do so in practice. And isn’t it plain wrong to try a civilian in a military court, under military rules regardless of the crime committed. It is an instrument open to abuse and can be resorted to by those in power who may want to achieve a certain judicial verdict (just ask kizza Besigye). And now president Museveni wants the court martials to cover corrupt officials too, ‘regular courts waste alot of time seeking evidence.’ True, but isnt it true that the police arrest you first and the do a shoddy job investigating the crime?

 The woman in question has been sentenced to death, extenuating circumstances not withstanding. Some gender activists have raised the alarm about the judicial process in question and have, for their trouble, been branded as sympathisers of a murderer.

 My question is whether this state of affairs, civilians tried in military courts, can be challenged in the constitutional court?

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