[JURIST] Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] on Sunday reported [press release] that the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] took legal custody of former commander of Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) Dominic Ongwen in Central African Republic’s capital Bangui last week. AI believes that transferring Ongwen to the ICC is a huge step to ensuring justice for the crimes against humanity committed by the LRA in Uganda. The ICC has sought to try Ongwen, who is thought to be the second-in-command to Joseph Kony [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] since 2005 when an initial warrant of arrest [text] was issued. He is accused [official materials] of enslavement, inflicting serious bodily injury and directing attacks against civilian populations, among others, for his actions in the early 2000s that saw him kill thousands and abduct children to be used as soldiers or sold as sex slaves. AI’s Deputy Regional Director for East Africa Sarah Jackson stated in regards to transferring Ongwen, “[t]he impending transfer of Dominic Ongwen to The Hague to face charges of crimes against humanity and war crimes finally paves the way for survivors of LRA atrocities in northern Uganda to see justice done.”
The decision to send Ongwen to the ICC defeated opposition from the Ugandan government who wished to try him in the country after his surrender [JURIST report] in early January. Uganda continues to heal from the atrocities committed during the Ugandan Civil War [BBC backgrounder] and has taken strides to end the conflict and bring to justice the perpetrators of that dark time. The organization Invisible Children [advocacy website] opposes the actions of the LRA and has been instrumental in bringing to the forefront the efforts to capture Kony. In May 2012 a Major General of the LRA was captured [JURIST report] by force after having carried out an ambush in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The US government also aided in the protection of Ugandan citizens by introducing legislation [JURIST report] in early 2012 that would put in safe-guards in Uganda to prevent more attacks from Kony and the LRA.