The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) on Sunday designated the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and its leader, Joseph Kony, pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13667 for engaging in the targeting of civilians in the Central African Republic (CAR) through the commission of acts of violence, abduction, and forced displacement.
Kony is also being designated for being a leader of the LRA.
This action complements yesterday’s listing of this individual and entity by the United Nations (UN) under Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 2262.
Sunday’s action freezes any LRA assets within U.S. jurisdiction and generally prohibits U.S. persons from engaging in transactions with the group.
It also adds to the sanctions already in place against Kony, who was designated as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist pursuant to E.O. 13224 in August 2008.
In addition, the U.S. Department of State included the LRA on the Terrorism Exclusion List in 2001.
“From murdering innocent civilians to pillaging villages, the Lord’s Resistance Army is responsible for notorious acts of violence,” said John E. Smith, OFAC Acting Director.
“Today’s action supports Treasury’s broader effort to dismantle this militia group and seek a more stable and secure future for the people of the Central African Republic and region.”
The President signed E.O. 13667 on May 12, 2014 to address the sectarian tension and widespread violence and atrocities in the CAR.
This E.O. authorizes Treasury to impose sanctions on those who threaten the peace, security, or stability of the CAR, obstruct the peace process in the CAR, recruit child soldiers, target peacekeepers, fuel the conflict in the CAR through the illicit trade of natural resources, or are responsible for human rights abuses or other atrocities in the CAR.
Lord’s Resistance Army
Emerging in northern Uganda in the 1980s, the LRA engaged in the abduction and mutilation of thousands of civilians across central Africa.
Under increasing military pressure, Kony ordered the LRA to withdraw from Uganda in 2005 and 2006.
Since then, the LRA has been concentrated in eastern CAR and Kafia Kingi, a territory on the border of Sudan and South Sudan whose final status has yet to be determined, while also operating in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and South Sudan.
Since December 2013, the LRA has kidnapped, displaced, committed sexual violence against, and killed hundreds of individuals across the CAR, as well as looted and destroyed civilian property.
The LRA raids and loots villages in the CAR that do not have a protective military presence.
LRA fighters also ambush security forces and steal their equipment in response to attacks.
LRA cells are frequently accompanied by captives who are forced to work as porters, cooks, and sex slaves.
The LRA engages in a high prevalence of gender-based violence including rapes of women and young girls, and has affected humanitarian response activities in south-eastern CAR, where approximately 21,000 Central Africans and 3,200 refugees from the DRC have been displaced as a result of LRA violence.
From January 2014 through early July 2015, the LRA has been involved in at least 329 civilian abductions in CAR.
In July 2015, the LRA attacked several villages in southern Haute-Kotto Prefecture by looting, committing violence against civilians, burning of houses, and kidnapping.
In addition to its attacks on civilians, the LRA has engaged in illicit diamonds trade, elephant poaching, and ivory trafficking for revenue generation since at least 2014.
The LRA traffics ivory from Garamba National Park in northern DRC through CAR to Kafia Kingi, where senior LRA officials sell and trade with local merchants and officials.
In October 2014, an LRA group transported a large ivory shipment from Garamba to Kafia Kingi, and in late May 2015, LRA abductees were transporting 20 tusks that the group had harvested to take to Kafia Kingi.
Kony founded the LRA in 1987 and is the group’s founder, religious leader, chairman, and commander-in-chief.
Kony commands one of the LRA’s operational groups and also oversees a separate group responsible for the security of his wives and children.
Kony devises and implements LRA strategy, including standing orders to attack and brutalize civilian populations.
Kony previously ordered his troops to abduct and loot despite the LRA’s participation in peace talks.
As of early 2014, Kony had ordered LRA fighters to loot diamonds and gold from miners in eastern CAR, resulting in intensified attacks on diamond and gold mining sites in the CAR.
Some of the looted minerals are then traded with local civilians or transported to Kony.
In April 2015, Kony led the relocation of two LRA groups into Kafia Kingi.
In addition, Kony’s group reportedly collected ivory poached from Garamba National Park and transported it through the CAR to Kafia Kingi, where Kony ordered his commanders to sell or barter the ivory for weapons, ammunition, and other supplies.