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The trial of Thomas Kwoyelo: opportunity of spectre? Reflections from the ground on the first LRA prosecution

Macdonald, Anna and Porter, Holly E. (2016) The trial of Thomas Kwoyelo: opportunity of spectre? Reflections from the ground on the first LRA prosecution. Africa, 86 (04). pp. 698-722. ISSN 0001-9720

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Identification Number: 10.1017/S000197201600053X


The trial of Thomas Kwoyelo – the first war crimes prosecution of a former Lord's Resistance Army fighter, and the only domestic war crimes prosecution in Uganda at the time of writing – has been packed with drama, intrigue and politics. The article considers what Kwoyelo's trial means for those most affected by the crimes he allegedly committed, and, more broadly, what it means for the ‘transitional justice’ project in Uganda. The article is concerned primarily with how the trial has been interpreted ‘on the ground’ in Acholiland: by local leadership; by those with a personal relationship to Kwoyelo; by direct victims of his alleged crimes; and by those who were not. Responses to the trial have been shaped by people's specific wartime experiences and if or how his prosecution relates to their current circumstances – as well as by the profound value of social harmony and distrust of higher authorities to dispense justice. We conclude with a discussion of the relevance of our findings for the practice of ‘transitional justice’ across the African continent.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2016 International African Institute © CC BY 4.0
Divisions: International Development
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DT Africa
J Political Science > JZ International relations
Date Deposited: 18 Nov 2016 15:05
Last Modified: 03 Jul 2024 21:27

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