Ugandan chief of Lord's Army faces war crimes trial

No names have been formally released, but the warrants are understood to be for the LRA leader Joseph Kony and four associates. The Ugandan government formally asked The Hague-based court to investigate violations in northern Uganda last year; the first time a state had asked the ICC to take up a case.

The LRA has terrorised northern Uganda and neighbouring South Sudan for the past 20 years, kidnapping thousands of children and forcing them to fight. The group has also murdered and tortured thousands of civilians.

The ICC was set up in 2002 to prosecute genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes committed anywhere in the world. It is intended to be a court of last resort, intervening when national authorities are unable or unwilling to prosecute. The court has begun investigations into atrocities committed in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Darfur, but Uganda will be the first major test of its effectiveness.

Uganda's Minister of Defence, Amama Mbabzi, told The Independent: "I welcome the ICC's involvement, and am proud that Uganda was the first country to file a case to them." For two decades Kony has used a blend of pseudo-religious imagery and psychological torture to build up his rebel group. More than 30,000 children have been abducted, who are then forced to kill their own siblings and parents. Girls are raped and given as "wives" to the senior commanders. The abductees are usually too ashamed to return home and remain with the LRA. The ICC is unlikely to find it easy to bring Kony to trial; the presence of kidnapped children within the LRA has hampered the Ugandan army's attempts to destroy the rebel group - army commanders are under orders to capture, not kill, any young fighters.

The Catholic Archbishop John Baptist Odium, who has set up a private peace initiative to end the violence, said the warrants may backfire on northern Uganda. He told reporters: "The ICC move will just lead to an increase in rebel attacks because it will not be possible to arrest these people. They have been eluding the government for 19 years."

The United States has long opposed the establishment of the ICC, arguing that its soldiers might be the subject of politically motivated prosecutions, although Washington has indicated that it may co-operate with the court in prosecuting crimes in Darfur. A number of other countries, including China, India, Pakistan and Turkey, have also refused to sign the treaty that set up the ICC.

Human rights groups welcomed the move, but added that they hoped the court would also investigate the Ugandan army, which is also accused of raping and beating civilians.

The Ugandan government has tried to open peace talks with the LRA on several occasions but the group's senior command has so far refused to surrender. Even an amnesty that granted Kony immunity from prosecution failed to draw him out of the bush, although it did persuade many junior fighters to lay down their weapons.

Mr Mbabazi said: "Kony has had the protection of an amnesty for several years, and he has shown no sign of wanting peace. If anything, he has seen the amnesty as a protection while he continues to fight."

Voices
Mosul dam was retaken with the help of the US
voicesRobert Fisk: Barack Obama is following the jihadists’ script
Life and Style
techCould new invention save millions in healthcare bills?
Arts and Entertainment
Loaded weapon: drugs have surprise side effects for Scarlett Johansson in Luc Besson’s ‘Lucy’
filmReview: Lucy, Luc Besson's complex thriller
News
peoplePamela Anderson rejects ice bucket challenge because of ALS experiments on animals
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Arts and Entertainment
tvExecutive says content is not 'without any purpose'
News
A cleaner prepares the red carpet for the opening night during the 59th International Cannes Film Festival May 17, 2006 in Cannes, France.
newsPowerful vacuum cleaners to be banned under EU regulations
Sport
sportLeague Managers' Association had described Malky Mackay texts as 'friendly banter'
News
A polar bear’s diet is rich in seal blubber and half of its own body weight is composed of fat
i100
News
peopleCareer spanned 70 years, including work with Holocaust survivors
News
people
Travel
Flocking round: Beyoncé, Madame Tussauds' latest waxwork, looking fierce in the park
travelIn a digital age when we have more access than ever to the stars, why are waxworks still pulling in crowds?
News
London is the most expensive city in Europe for cultural activities such as ballet
arts
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson has rejected criticisms of his language, according to BBC director of television Danny Cohen
tv
Extras
indybest
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Nursery Nurse

£40 per day: Randstad Education Manchester: Nursery Nurse needed in salfordI a...

Nursery Nurse

£25 per day: Randstad Education Manchester: Level 3 Nursery nurse needed in th...

Supply Teaching jobs in Thetford

£21588 - £31566 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Randstad Education ar...

KS1 teachers needed in Peterborough

£110 - £125 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Randstad Education are ur...

Day In a Page

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

Nick Clegg the movie

Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

Waxing lyrical

Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

Revealed (to the minute)

The precise time when impressionism was born
From slow-roasted to sugar-cured: how to make the most of the British tomato season

Make the most of British tomatoes

The British crop is at its tastiest and most abundant. Sudi Pigott shares her favourite recipes
10 best men's skincare products

Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
Malky Mackay allegations: Malky Mackay, Iain Moody and another grim day for English football

Mackay, Moody and another grim day for English football

The latest shocking claims do nothing to dispel the image that some in the game on these shores exist in a time warp, laments Sam Wallace
La Liga analysis: Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

Pete Jenson starts his preview of the Spanish season, which begins on Saturday, by explaining how Fifa’s transfer ban will affect the Catalans
Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape