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."
- 1 Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Weather bomb in pictures: Storms cuts power for tens of thousands – and snow is on the way
Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
Russell Brand was rendered speechless on Question Time by this man
Fury at Airbus after it hints the super-jumbo may be mothballed
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
Nigel Farage's approval rating hits 'record low' as popularity suffers in wake of Ukip sex scandal
Pakistan school attack live: Taliban kill at least 132 children in 'horrifying' massacre
Sony hack: Angelina Jolie branded 'seriously out of her mind' in further embarrassing leaked email saga
Panic Saturday: 13 million Britons spend £1.2bn – while 13 million others across the country live in poverty unable to afford food
£33000 - £35000 per annum + Pension and holidays: The Jenrick Group: Project E...
£35200 per annum + Pension and holidays: The Jenrick Group: Maintenance Engine...
£14000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing specialist merchant co...
£20000 - £30000 per annum + OTE £50k: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 bus...