The arrest of Joseph Kony, a prominent leader of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), must be carried out in accordance with human rights standards, Amnesty International said today following the massive public response to the Kony 2012 campaign.
Kony and three other LRA leaders have evaded capture since 2005 when they were charged by the International Criminal Court (ICC) with crimes against humanity and a raft of war crimes, including murder, forcible enlistment of children under the age of 15, sexual slavery and rape.
For many years, Amnesty International has been calling for the LRA leaders to be arrested.
“Joseph Kony and other LRA leaders have evaded arrest for far too long and this campaign is a salient reminder of the continuing crimes by LRA members and the need to arrest and surrender their leaders to the ICC so they can face trial,” said Erwin van der Borght, Africa director at Amnesty International.
For more than two decades, Amnesty International has documented crimes committed by the Lord’s Resistance Army and their horrific impact on the lives of thousands of civilians in Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan and Uganda.
Amnesty International has also documented human rights violations committed by the Uganda People’s Defence Forces against the civilian communities where the LRA were present, and against captured LRA members.
“It is important to remember that many of LRA members were themselves victims of human rights violations including forcible recruitment,” said Erwin van der Borght “Forces pursuing the LRA must seek to arrest the suspects in accordance with international law.”
Every effort must also be taken to protect the civilian communities where the LRA are present, recognizing that they are at grave danger of attack and being forcibly recruited into the LRA.
Amnesty International believes that efforts to arrest Joseph Kony should be led by the governments of the countries in the region where the LRA operates, not by the US armed forces. The UN and the African Union, both of which are involved in the effort to arrest the LRA suspects, also have an essential role to play in supporting efforts to arrest the LRA leaders, in protecting affected communities and monitoring and reporting on the status of human rights protection.
“Anyone joining the Kony 2012 campaign should insist that efforts to arrest Joseph Kony must respect human rights. It is also vital to make sure that any action ensures the protection of civilians in the surrounding areas.”
The death of any of the accused men would deny justice to the victims of LRA abuses.
Measures also need to be taken to provide reparation to the victims of human rights violations by the LRA to address their suffering, including providing medical and psychological care to victims of sexual violence and reintegrating child soldiers back into their communities and to make education and vocational training available to them.