Kony offered amnesty

The International Criminal Court may have a warrant out for his arrest, but that didn’t stop Uganda from offering full amnesty to the rebel leader Joseph Kony, head of the infamous Lord’s Resistance Army. It’s a strange move on the part of the Ugandan government, as their military – and the United Nations – have ...

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608002_kony2.thumbnail5.jpg

The International Criminal Court may have a warrant out for his arrest, but that didn't stop Uganda from offering full amnesty to the rebel leader Joseph Kony, head of the infamous Lord's Resistance Army.

It's a strange move on the part of the Ugandan government, as their military - and the United Nations - have long been trying to capture Kony, considered responsible for the death and kidnapping of thousands of civilians, especially children, during the 19-year civil war. Perhaps the Ugandan government is hoping the offer could facilitate peace at talks that begin next week in Sudan. But Kony has already rejected the amnesty deal, calling it irrelevant since it has no effect on the ICC proceedings against him.

The International Criminal Court may have a warrant out for his arrest, but that didn’t stop Uganda from offering full amnesty to the rebel leader Joseph Kony, head of the infamous Lord’s Resistance Army.

It’s a strange move on the part of the Ugandan government, as their military – and the United Nations – have long been trying to capture Kony, considered responsible for the death and kidnapping of thousands of civilians, especially children, during the 19-year civil war. Perhaps the Ugandan government is hoping the offer could facilitate peace at talks that begin next week in Sudan. But Kony has already rejected the amnesty deal, calling it irrelevant since it has no effect on the ICC proceedings against him.

While Uganda has said it considers ICC attempts to try Kony for crimes against humanity “a noble cause,” it seems willing to forsake those proceedings in favor of a signed peace deal. Ugandan officials say last October’s ICC arrest warrants have hindered peace efforts by giving rebel leaders no incentive to come out of the bush and negotiate. But the Ugandan government’s hands are hardly clean in this war, as Olara Otunnu reports in the current issue of FP. Perhaps the amnesty offer is an attempt to discourage or delay ICC proceedings against Kony – and that could mean investigations into Ugandan officials’ own possible crimes fall off the priority list. 

Ben Fryer is a researcher at Foreign Policy.

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