The Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Fatou Bensouda, has called for the defection by Lord’s Resistance Army fighters.
“My Office has received information from communities in Northern Uganda and from Lord’s Resistance Army (“LRA”) fighters who have returned from the bush that many within the ranks of the LRA are still being misled by Joseph Kony and other senior LRA commanders that you will either be imprisoned like Dominic Ongwen, or even tortured or killed by the International Criminal Court (“ICC” or the “Court”), if you surrender and try to return home,” she said in a statement.
She clarified that this was not true “and it is a complete fallacy to suggest that the ICC engages in torture or killing of any individual”.
As it concerns judicial proceedings, only the cases of Joseph Kony or Dominic Ongwen are before the ICC. No other LRA member is subject to ICC proceedings.
“We have seen encouraging trends: many LRA fighters are returning home and reintegrating into their communities. I urge those still in the bush to also seize any opportunity to stop fighting and return home, where you have a chance to rebuild your lives.”
Among the five arrest warrants initially issued by the Court in 2005, only two remain outstanding: senior LRA commanders Joseph Kony and Vincent Otti (believed deceased). Apart from them, there are no ICC arrest warrants outstanding for any other LRA soldiers.
Dominic Ongwen was arrested and is now being tried at the ICC because he was one of the five top commanders against whom ICC judges issued a warrant of arrest for atrocity crimes committed in Northern Uganda.
Dominic Ongwen is facing a fair trial, which is impartial and public. Following the confirmation of charges hearing, which was held from 21 to 27 January 2016, ICC Judges have just confirmed all the 70 charges submitted against Dominic Ongwen by my Office.
The law applicable at the ICC and the Court’s Judges ensure that the rights of any accused person subject to proceedings before the Court are fully respected.
“As we move towards the trial in this case, Dominic Ongwen will continue to be represented by lawyers of his choice and will be afforded the necessary facilities to prepare his defence,” Bensouda noted.
“I take this opportunity to once again call on Joseph Kony to hand himself in and face justice. My Office will continue to galvanise efforts to arrest him. Anyone who has information about the whereabouts of Joseph Kony is invited to contact my Office at the following email (OTP.Uganda.Investigation@icc-cpi.int) or to send a text message only to the following Ugandan local number +25678-0245609.”
Bensouda said sending such information to the Court is an act of courage that will help to put an end to Joseph Kony’s alleged criminal mistreatment of his own people and those of other nations.