The International Criminal Court is seeking more state and non-state partners in its hunt for Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony.
Kony, who has evaded arrest for more than 17 years, is the leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army rebel group.
Dahirou Santana, the international cooperation adviser in the office of the ICC chief prosecutor, told journalists in Kampala that the court is seeking partners for logistics, information, personnel and anything else that would eventually lead to the arrest of rebel leaders accused of committing crimes against humanity.
Some of the partners in the past have been Uganda, the Central African Republic and Congo.
Others are the US which has already put a $5 million bounty on Kony’s head.
Working group instituted
He said the court has already instituted a working group to identify different actors in its quest to get Kony, for whose arrest it issued a warrant in 2005.
A joint US and Uganda military operation to arrest Kony was called off in 2017 with both parties saying he was no longer a threat.
“Is he still in Central African Republic or is he in Congo? That is unknown to us but we believe that the new process will ensure that the spotlight is brought back to Kony and have him arrested,” Santana said.
In 1987, Kony launched a civil war against Kampala basing it in the northern part of the country where hundreds of thousands of civilians were killed, abducted, raped, maimed and others displaced from their homes for more than two decades.
In November last year, ICC prosecutor Karim Khan asked the court’s Pre-trial Chamber to confirm 33 charges against Kony and allow prosecution to add more.
Confirmation of charge hearing
The prosecutor also sought authorisation to hold the confirmation of charge hearing against Kony in his absence.
This is the first time in the history of the court that such a request is made by the prosecutor.
“We are exploring the possibility of adding more charges on the 33, the idea will be to expand the charges and identify all locations that appear in his trial. The prosecutor has reinforced the team working on this case and we are currently reviewing evidence we have in-house but also trying to identify whether there will be witnesses that will help reinforce the case. Investigations are ongoing to see that we have a solid case by the time of hearing,” Santana said.
His team will, however, be required to inform Kony of the charges against him and that a charge hearing is underway in his absentia.
The court, however, said that the trial can only commence if Kony is physically in the courtroom.
Kony is accused of crimes, including murder, sexual enslavement, rape, intentionally directing attacks against the civilian population, pillaging, and forced conscription of child soldiers, among others, allegedly committed after July 2002.
The same court last year sentenced one of Kony’s former commanders, Dominic Ongwen, to 25 years imprisonment over crimes committed during the war.