24 October 2008

ICC inquires on Congo’s Kony pursuit

New Vision Thursday, 23rd October, 2008

By John Odyek

THE International Criminal Court (ICC) has asked for the steps the DR Congo has taken in pursuing the indicted leaders of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA).

In 2005, the ICC sought for the arrest of the LRA’s top leaders who were hiding in the DR Congo’s Garamba National Park.

In a statement issued on Tuesday, the ICC stated that it needed the information by November 17.

Kony and his top commanders have been indicted for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

“On September 27 2005 the requests for (the) arrest and surrender of Joseph Kony, Vincent Otti, Okot Odhiambo and Dominic Ongwen, were submitted to the DR Congo, following information from Uganda that the LRA had been based in that country for more than three years, specifically in Garamba National Park,” the statement read.

The ICC’s Pre-Trial Chamber II noted that Article 87 (7) of the Rome Statute, provides that when a state party fails to comply with a request to cooperate, the Court may make a finding to that effect and refer the matter to the Assembly of States Parties.

“The Chamber ordered the Registrar to promptly transmit the request to the Government of the Congo,” the statement read.

Uganda referred the situation to the court on January 29 2004. The ICC prosecutor opened an investigation on 29 July 2004.

A Conservative-led resolution calling for Uganda to resume its efforts to bring Kony to the ICC was passed on Tuesday by the Members of the European Parliament at a sitting in France.

The resolution, authored by a member of UK’s Conservatives and a Member of the European Parliament, Nirj Deva, is critical of Uganda’s halting of efforts to capture Kony.

The warlord is accused of 33 counts of crimes against humanity and war crimes. “Peace and reconciliation cannot be achieved for the LRA’s victims until Kony stands in the dock and answers the allegations.

The Ugandan government and other governments in the region, especially the DR Congo must step up efforts to capture Kony and deliver him to the ICC, which will decide whether it is appropriate for him to stand trial in Uganda,” Deva said.

The UN estimates that the LRA has kidnapped 20,000 children in the past two decades, turning the boys into soldiers and the girls into sex slaves.

In April, Kony did not appear to sign the final peace deal in South Sudan.

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