The trial of Thomas Kwoyelo, a former commander of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) is hanging in suspense over COVID-19. Judges scheduled the trial, which resumed on March 9 in Gulu after a two-month break, to run for three consecutive weeks, and the prosecution was expected to complete a key segment of evidence.
During the proceedings held from March 9 to 13, four prosecution witnesses testified about killings allegedly perpetrated under Kwoyelo’s command. However, on March 19, during the second week of proceedings, a short adjournment was made until March 24, in response to a presidential decree directing for the immediate closure of all schools, public places of worship, and other mass gatherings for the next 30 days to curb the spread of COVID-19 in Uganda. The adjournment was necessitated to allow judges and other court officials to collect their children from school.
With the discovery of more COVID-19 cases in Uganda, the trial has now been indefinitely postponed.
Kwoyelo, whose trial began in September 2018, faces 93 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed between January 1995 and December 2005 in northern Uganda. A panel of four judges presides over his trial. They are justices Duncan Gaswagga, Jane Persis Kiggundu, Michael Elubu, and Stephen Mubiru.
Lino Owor Ogora is a peace-building practitioner who has worked with victims of conflict in northern Uganda and South Sudan since 2006. He is also the Co-Founder of the Foundation for Justice and Development Initiatives (FJDI), a local Non-Government Organization based in Gulu District that works with children, youth, women and communities to promote justice, development and economic recovery in northern Uganda.