17 January 2013

Uganda: Obama Hailed Over Law On Kony

Photo: New Vision
Joseph Kony holds his daughters at a past peace negotiation meet (file photo).

The international non-governmental organization Invisible Children has hailed President Obama for assenting to a US law which will offer a cash bounty to whoever apprehends LRA leader Joseph Kony and his top commanders.

Obama on Tuesday assented to an amended law which places a cash reward for whoever arrests the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) leader Joseph Kony and his top commanders.

Invisible Children has played a central role in lobbying the US congress to support the end to the LRA atrocities. The Invisible Children, CEO Ben Keesey was present at the Oval Office as President Obama signed the law.

The "Department of State Rewards Program Update and Technical Corrections Act of 2012," was introduced in February last year by the representative from California Ed Royce, who chairs the foreign affairs subcommittee on terrorism, nonproliferation, and trade.

"As an NGO committed to bringing a permanent end to LRA atrocities and improving the quality of life of LRA-affected communities by providing access to quality education and improved livelihoods, this legislation reinforces our firm efforts to see an enduring end to LRA conflict in and outside Uganda," said Jolly Grace Okot, Invisible Children's regional Ambassador in Central and East Africa.

The law updates the State Department's Rewards Program which was introduced in 1984 to offer rewards for information related to terrorists, narcotics traffickers and specific international war criminals.

The amendment updates the Rewards Program to target those indicted by international, hybrid or mixed tribunals for genocide, war crimes, or crimes against humanity.

Kony and his commanders are wanted by International Criminal Court (ICC) to answer charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

President Obama said that besides LRA leaders, this rewards program will also target perpetrators of human rights violations, citing indicted commanders of the Congolese M23 rebel group as well as the Hutu extremists FDLR operating in DR Congo.

Since the inception of the rewards program in 1984, the US government has paid rewards to over 70 people who provided intelligence that prevented terrorist attacks and court convictions of terrorist.

Okot said, "That previous and related Justice Reward programmes have succeeded in leading to arrests of war criminals fortifies our belief that this law will indeed move forward the hunt for Joseph Kony and his associates."

LRA was kicked out from Uganda by the UPDF five years ago. However, the LRA remains active in South Sudan, Central African Republic and DR Congo.

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