Global Policy Forum

ICC Should Intensify the Hunt for Kony


By Trevor Kaita

New Vision
December 22, 2005

ON December 10, the world celebrated the Human Rights Day. This is the day we remember the coming into force of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It is now 57 years since all the nations of the world adapted this extraordinary document that has been described as the summation of core human rights, principles and standards. This year's theme was avoiding "torture" and governments around the world were punching bags for human rights agencies and activists over torturing their own people.

"The absolute ban on torture, a cornerstone of the international human rights edifice, is becoming a casualty of the so-called 'war on terror'," the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise Arbour, said during the commemoration of the day. On the other hand, United Nations Chief Kofi Annan urged member countries to recommit themselves to the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. "Let us re-dedicate ourselves to wiping the scourge of torture from the face of the earth," he said.

I entirely agree with the views of the two UN officials, but more should be done to condemn the works of elusive rebel groups whose military strategy has since changed to attacking civilian communities. Our own LRA has subjected thousands to untold suffering, yet when the Uganda Human Rights Commission issued a press statement (search The New Vision, Opinion section, December, 12, 2005), I did not see a single word condemning the LRA for the torture they have inflicted on the people of northern Uganda.

I know critics may argue that it is the right and duty of the Government of Uganda to protect its citizens from attacks from such rebel groups. But this does not mean we should not condemn terror groups that target innocent people going about their business in homes, roads, gardens and all other places where the LRA has managed to slaughter its victims. It is in this vein that I think the hunt for Joseph Kony and his chiefs by the International Criminal Court should be intensified. Ugandans should never allow anyone to kill their fellow citizens with such impunity. There is no way you can cause the loss of so many lives in such a horrendous way and think your life should be protected. If you are a murderer of innocent people, you should be prepared to face the same sword.

The laws of armed conflict are clearly spelt out in the Geneva Convention and their additional protocols and Uganda is a signatory to this convention and the protocols. I will dwell on the 1977 additional protocols: Protocol 11, Article 3, which talks of protection of civilian community during an armed conflict. The protocol thus declares that neither the civilian population nor the individual civilian may be the object of attacks or any other act of terrorism. Starvation of civilians is a prohibited method of combat. Objects indispensable to the survival of civilian population such as wells, farms, places of worship, cultural property, among others, must never be attacked or used in support of the military. The following are also prohibited: murder, torture of any form, corporal punishment, mutilation and outrage upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment, enforced prostitution and any form of indecent assault to civilians.

The law has been broken and the perpetrators have to pay the price. The LRA, the Janjaweed in Sudan and all other rebel groups around the continent that have inflicted untold suffering to innocent people should be tried in the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity. Meanwhile, governments that abuse the rights of their own people should be prepared to follow suit. This is the only avenue that will ensure that justice and the rule of law prevail around the continent that has a reputation of torturing its own citizenry.

More Information on International Justice
More Information on the International Criminal Court Investigation in Uganda
More Information on International Criminal Court Investigations
More Information on the International Criminal Court
More Information on Joseph Kony
More Information on Uganda


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