ICC judges allow prosecutor to move forward with charges hearing in absence of Uganda rebel Joseph Kony News
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ICC judges allow prosecutor to move forward with charges hearing in absence of Uganda rebel Joseph Kony

Pre-Trial Chamber II of the International Criminal Court (ICC) on Thursday allowed prosecutors to move forward with their request to hold a confirmation of charges hearing in the absence of Joseph Kony, a fugitive Ugandan militant who founded the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA).

Prosecutors filed for a confirmation of charges hearing against Kony on 24 November 2022. According to prosecutors, Kony is considered a person who cannot be found, and there were reasons to proceed in his absence, such as publicizing the proceedings against him and permitting the victims to put forward their views and concerns.

An arrest warrant for Kony was issued in 2005. According to the warrant, the LRA carried out an insurgency against the government of Uganda and directed attacks against civilian populations. To pursue its goal, the LRA engaged in violence and established a pattern of brutalization of civilians by acts including murder, abduction, sexual enslavement, and mutilation. Considering that Kony founded and led the LRA, he was accused of 33 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity. However, this arrest warrant remains unexecuted, and Kony remains a fugitive.

According to article 61.2(b) of the Rome Statute:

The Pre-Trial Chamber may, upon request of the Prosecutor or on its own motion, hold a hearing in the absence of the person charged to confirm the charges on which the Prosecutor intends to seek trial when the person has: … Fled or cannot be found and all reasonable steps have been taken to secure his or her appearance before the Court and to inform the person of the charges and that a hearing to confirm those charges will be held.

The chamber ordered the ICC registrar to submit a plan indicating the outreach activities and notification efforts it would pursue to inform Kony, and the chamber will then evaluate whether the proposed hearing complies with the legislation of the Rome Statute.