By The Independent Team
(Washington, DC, January 7, 2015) – A commander of the rebel group the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) has been taken into custody by US military forces, according to news reports. The US State Department indicated that a man who identified himself as Dominic Ongwen, the commander, had surrendered to US military personnel in the Central African Republic. In 2005, the International Criminal Court (ICC) charged Ongwen and four other senior LRA commanders with war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in northern Uganda.
“The apprehension of the LRA Commander Dominic Ongwen would be a major opportunity to advance justice for the LRA’s long record of atrocities,” said Ida Sawyer, senior Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch. “For 10 years Ongwen has been a fugitive, sought on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity by the ICC. He should be promptly surrendered to face justice.”
Led by the Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony, the LRA has killed and abducted thousands of civilians, many of them children, in remote regions of northern Uganda, northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan, and the Central African Republic. Since 2011, US military advisers have supported an African Union regional task force deployed to the region to fight the LRA.
The ICC is a court of last resort that prosecutes where national courts are unable or unwilling to prosecute. In December 2003, Uganda referred the situation in northern Uganda to the ICC.
For more Human Rights Watch reporting on the LRA, please visit: