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Chasing Justice: The Ongoing Quest to Apprehend Joseph Kony and Deliver Accountability

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  • During a visit to Uganda, the ICC Registrar, Osvaldo Zavala Giler, explained that neither the police nor the army is under ICC jurisdiction for Kony’s arrest, despite an arrest warrant issued in 2005.
  • Despite a US government bounty of $5 million for Kony’s arrest announced in 2021, attempts by Ugandan and US forces to capture him have been unsuccessful, with both withdrawing in 2017, citing diminished threat perception.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has stated that it can do little if the states party to the Rome Statute fail to exercise their authority to apprehend Joseph Kony, the leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). During a visit to Uganda, the ICC Registrar, Osvaldo Zavala Giler, explained that neither the police nor the army is under ICC jurisdiction for Kony’s arrest, despite an arrest warrant issued in 2005. Kony is accused of 36 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed in northern Uganda between July 2002 and December 2005.

Zavala emphasized the ICC’s collaboration with the Ugandan government to bring Kony to justice, stressing that they are not engaging with non-state actors or other forces. Last November, the ICC Prosecutor sought court authorization to revive Kony’s case, with confirmation of charges hearings scheduled for October to assess the prosecution’s evidence.

Regarding Dominic Ongwen, a former LRA commander already serving a 25-year sentence in Norway, the ICC ordered compensation of approximately 52.429 million Euros for victims, with symbolic payments to thousands directly affected by Ongwen’s actions. Despite Ongwen’s defense appealing against the reparation order, the trust fund for victims continues its implementation plans pending a decision from the appeal chamber.

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On November 23, 2023, Pre-Trial Chamber II made a preliminary decision to proceed with confirmation of charges against Kony, even in his absence, with hearings set for October 15, 2024. Despite a US government bounty of $5 million for Kony’s arrest announced in 2021, attempts by Ugandan and US forces to capture him have been unsuccessful, with both withdrawing in 2017, citing diminished threat perception.

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