Central Africans are seeking justice as they implore the International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor to broaden the charges against Joseph Kony, the leader of the notorious Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). Kony has been the subject of an arrest warrant issued by the ICC in 2005, primarily for crimes against humanity and war crimes committed in northern Uganda. However, following failed peace negotiations in 2006, the LRA militants relocated to the Central African Republic, where they unleashed a wave of atrocities.
Regrettably, the crimes committed by the LRA in the Central African Republic are not covered by the existing arrest warrant against Joseph Kony. Consequently, the victims of the militia’s brutal methods are unable to seek reparations through the ICC. Representing approximately 1,400 Central Africans, their lawyer, Isabelle Kessel, is urging the prosecutor to expand the charges to encompass the crimes committed in the Central African Republic.
This plea from the lawyer coincides with Karim Khan’s request to the judges for Joseph Kony to be indicted in absentia. Typically, such a step occurs promptly after a suspect is brought before the court. However, since 2005, the elusive leader of the LRA has remained on the run, evading capture even with the assistance of the United States military, which supported regional efforts.
Regardless of the judge’s response to the appeal, it is important to note that victims can only obtain reparations once a defendant has been convicted. To achieve this, it is imperative to apprehend and bring Kony to trial, as trials cannot proceed in absentia. Sadly, the prospects of Kony’s victims ever receiving reparations appear to be distant and uncertain.