Arusha, October 8, 2013 (FH) – The International Criminal Court (ICC) remains concerned by the failure to arrest Ugandan rebel leader Joseph Kony, who has been under an arrest warrant since 2005.

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This is stressed in the ICC’s 2012-2013 annual report, received by Hirondelle on Tuesday. At the same time, African and Western NGOs urged more international action against Kony’s LRA rebels, who continue to commit crimes against civilians, notably in the Central African Republic. 

Kony is one of 13 suspects wanted by the ICC but who remain at large.  In its annual report to the United Nations, the ICC urges States to “provide timely and full cooperation to the Court in accordance with their legal obligations, and that appropriate action be taken in cases of non-cooperation”. Kony is suspected of 12 counts of crimes against humanity and 21 counts of war crimes. The ICC also has arrest warrants outstanding from 2005 against three of Kony’s lieutenants, Okot Odhiambo, Dominic Ongwen and Vincent Otti (Otti is reportedly dead). These arrest warrants concern crimes committed in northern Uganda. However, for the last several years, the LRA is also active in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic and South Sudan.

Civil society leaders from all countries affected by the LRA problem met last week in Brussels with European and American activists. In a joint statement Tuesday, they called for “urgent action to finally end LRA atrocities and support the recovery of affected communities”. “The LRA remains a critical situation in the region,” said Archbishop of Kisangani Marcel Utembi from the DRC, quoted in the statement. “In order to overcome this crisis, we need a coordinated approach from every actor in the region, and increased support to local organizations working to help those most affected.”

According to Radio Miraya, the UN radio in South Sudan managed in partnership with Fondation Hirondelle, eight LRA fighters were killed at the end of last month in Yambio, near the border with the DRC, in clashes with African Union forces. Meanwhile in the Central African Republic, certain sources have reported that the LRA is laying down its arms, although the information has not been confirmed in Uganda. It remains unclear whether there has been a decision by the LRA leadership or whether the reports concern LRA deserters.

Early this year the US government promised a 5 million dollar reward for information leading to the arrest of Joseph Kony. US Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issues Stephen Rapp said the move was to help bring justice for innocent men, women and children victims of LRA massacres, mutilations, enslavement and other atrocities.