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ICC says Uganda rebel arrest warrants still in effect despite national war crimes court deal

[JURIST] Indictments for the leaders of Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) [MIPT backgrounder; JURIST news archive] still remain in effect despite a recent agreement between the LRA and the Ugandan government to establish a national war crimes court [JURIST report], the International Criminal Court [official website] prosecutor's office said Wednesday. The ICC functions under the principle of complementarity [ICC backgrounder] and can therefore only act if countries themselves are unable or unwilling to investigate or prosecute, but human rights groups are skeptical that a Ugandan court would be able to adequately prosecute LRA leaders.

The agreement to establish a war crimes court [JURIST report] to prosecute crimes against humanity committed during Uganda's civil war [BBC Q&A] is part of the government's larger effort to broker a peace deal with the LRA; until recently, the government has indicated it would not sign an agreement unless the International Criminal Court withdraws its indictments [ICC materials; JURIST report] of five LRA leaders. The five ICC-issued warrants were executed in 2005 and include LRA senior member Vincent Otti and LRA leader Joseph Kony [BBC profiles]. In 2007, Otti was executed by rebels [BBC report], though official confirmation of his death was delayed until last month amid fears that it would disrupt peace talks. Kony, who remains in hiding, is wanted for orchestrating the killing of thousands of civilians and the enslavement of thousands more children over two decades of conflict. The government has said that Kony is willing to face trial at home [JURIST report], but not at the ICC. AFP has more.

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