A top leader of the ruthless armed group that for decades has terrorized a large area of Central Africa is now in custody of an international tribunal to face charges for war crimes and crimes against humanity. The United States welcomes Dominic Ongwen’s transfer to the International Criminal Court as an important step toward justice for victims of the Lord’s Resistance Army.
Ongwen, 34, defected from the LRA in early January.
In announcing his transfer to the ICC, the United Nations Security Council called on states to bring the group’s remaining commanders to justice, including its leader Joseph Kony. And the U.N. urged an immediate end to all attacks by the LRA, release of all those abducted, and its fighters to disarm and demobilize.
Abducted as a child, Ongwen allegedly went on to commit and direct brutal crimes over many years as one of the group’s senior commanders, including attacks on displaced civilians in northern Uganda, and the massacre of more than 300 civilians in Makombo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, by elements reportedly under his command.
We commend the efforts of all those involved in Ongwen’s transfer, including the African Union anti-LRA task force, for its significant efforts that laid the groundwork for Ongwen’s removal from the battlefield; President Museveni and the Government of Uganda for their sustained leadership in the regional efforts to end the LRA threat; and the Central African Republic’s Transitional President, Catherine Samba-Panza, whose actions have exemplified her deep commitment to ending impunity in the C.A.R. and ensuring that the perpetrators of atrocities are held accountable.
We also thank those individuals in the C.A.R. whose actions made it possible for Ongwen to face justice, and we call on all citizens of LRA-affected areas to continue their efforts to support the forces combatting the LRA in the region.
These developments give hope – to the survivors, to the four countries affected by the LRA, and to their partners around the world – that the nightmare of the LRA can be brought to an end.