The trial of Thomas Kwoyelo, a former child soldier turned commander of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), a rebel group that terrorized Uganda and Central Africa for over two decades, causing over 100,000 deaths, commenced on Friday, January 19, in Uganda. Kwoyelo is facing over 70 charges, including murder, rape, and recruiting child soldiers. This marks the first time a Ugandan court is adjudicating a member of the Lord’s Resistance Army, fourteen years after his arrest.
The trial is poised to be historic for various reasons, as highlighted by Okwir Isaac Odiya, the head of the Ugandan NGO Justice and Reconciliation Project, in an interview with Victor Cariou of the Africa desk.
This trial is going to be extremely significant for Ugandan society. It is the first of its kind. It is a moment where everyone will learn, including the Ugandan government, civil society organizations, and lawyers.
“So, this trial is a test. A test where the government will see what works, where society will see what impact it can have, a test that will allow victims to understand what they can expect from such a trial. What happens there will define the procedure for all other trials related to the Lord’s Resistance Army.” emphasized Victor Cariou.