On 6 September 2010, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) indicted Thomas Kwoyelo for grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions, namely: ‘53 counts of willful killing, hostage taking, destruction of property and causing injury’ during the Ugandan civil war from 1992 to 2005. Kwoyelo petitioned the High Court of Uganda in 2011, stating that the refusal of the DPP and the Amnesty Commission to grant him a certificate of amnesty while the same had been granted to other applicants in circumstances similar to his, was discriminatory and unconstitutional under the 1995 Constitution of Uganda. The Constitutional Court, in its ruling No. 36 of 2011, concluded that Kwoyelo was entitled to amnesty as he had renounced his rebel activities.https://www.icrc.org/applic/ihl/ihl-nat.nsf/caseLaw.xsp?documentId=20E1082342C75A5AC1257ED60046A45B&action=openDocument&xp_countrySelected=UG&xp_topicSelected=GVAL-992BU6&from=state
In the present case (High Court Miscellaneous Application No. 162 of 22 September 2011), Kwoyelo petitioned the High Court for an order of mandamus (judicial remedy) against the Amnesty Commission and the DPP as they had failed to provide him with the certificate of amnesty granted by the Constitutional Court’s ruling No. 36 of 2011. The prosecution’s argumentation was twofold: first, it stated that the Constitutional Court’s ruling did not order the DPP or the Amnesty Commission to grant the accused amnesty but solely to cease their action against him; second, the DPP had instructed the Amnesty Commission not to deliver the amnesty writ as the appellant had been charged with grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions, for which amnesty could not be granted.
The High Court ruled in favour of Kwoyelo, granting him the mandamus, in order to compel the DPP and the Amnesty Commission to deliver a certificate of amnesty to the applicant, as the grave breaches had been committed in the exercise of the rebellious activities for which he was granted amnesty under Uganda’s Amnesty Act.
Related case law: Thomas Kwoyelo alias Latoni v. Uganda, Supreme Court, 8 April 2015