Tuesday, June 10, 2008


Kony’s safety cage rapidly getting narrower
Joseph Kony whose spent rebel outfit , the LRA has murdered about 30,000 people in northern Uganda has fooled the world many times. But not this column which has for a long time made the argument that Kony an indicted war criminal cannot escape justice.

The architects of the failed peace talks did not appreciate the fact that Kony, aware of the crimes he has committed, knows too well that he stands no chance of escaping trial in the International Criminal Court (ICC) together with four ofhis top commanders.

And unless he commits suicide (like Nazis’ Adolf Hitler) or dies fighting as he has recently vowed; he can at best run but not hide forever. The international community in unprecedented solidarity is now resolute in its pursuit of justice; to apprehend and prosecute war criminals and every person or group of people who commit crimes against humanity.

The recent arrest of former Congolese warlord, Jean-Pierre Bemba, after he was indicted for crimes against humanity and war crimes serves as a clear example that those who take up arms and commit crimes against civilians in their bloody quest for political leadership, driven by greed, have no place in the civilised world.

Bemba is the 4th person to be arrested by the ICC which has also issued arrest warrants for Kony, Vicent otti, Okot Odhiambo and Raska Lukwiya who are all facing 33 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity. The ICC is also looking for Bosco Ntaganda who is accused of commiting crimes in Ituri and Kivu and Ahmed Harun, the Sudanese minister who is accused of similar crimes in the troubled Darfur region.

According to the Rome Statute the law which provides for the arrest and trial of international war criminals, crimes against humanity include murder, sexual slavery forcible transfer of population (call it abductions in the case of Kony), which acts are committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population.

It’s on record that Kony has committed all the above crimes; he has for the last 20 years led a marauding vicious rebel outfit that has massacred thousands of people, maimed, raped, defiled and abducted thousands of others many of whom are still in captivity.

The ICC prosecutor has warned that army or rebel commanders can no longer order for murder of civilians or authorise commission of rapes and abductions and think they will escape justice.

The Rome Statute provides that member states, including Uganda, should not take any legislative or other measures which may be prejudicial to the international obligations they have assumed in regard to detection, arrest, extradition and punishment of persons guilty of war crimes.

Once a person has committed war crimes, domestic amnesty law can’t protect such a person or group. That’s why the billions wasted on a futile peace process to lure Kony out of his hideout in the jungles of DR Congo should instead have been spent on reconstruction and strengthening security in the war ravaged northern Uganda.

The millions of displaced people who are now returning to their homes need maximum security. This is because freedom and democracy can only flourish if there is security. In the meantime, the Uganda government should cooperate fully with the international community to have Kony and his co-accused arrested for trial.

This is the prudent thing to do especially that President Museveni is the key complainant in the matter.
The relative peace in the north should not make us rest on our laurels and deny the long suffering people of northern Uganda justice.

The writer is a journalist and advocate

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