[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Languages
Last Updated: Thursday, 18 May 2006, 15:56 GMT 16:56 UK
Uganda 'must arrest' rebel leader
Joseph Kony
Joseph Kony is wanted for war crimes
The International Criminal Court has said it expects Uganda to meet its obligation to arrest the leader of the rebel Lord's Resistance Army rebels.

Joseph Kony is wanted for war crimes by the court, but on Wednesday Uganda's president offered him a peace deal.

Yoweri Museveni said Mr Kony had until the end of July to end the war and said his safety would be guaranteed.

But the ICC says Uganda's government referred the case to the court and must honour its commitment.

The LRA has abducted thousands of children and forced them to fight since the conflict in the north began two decades ago.

'Serious crimes'

"It's the government of Uganda that referred the situation to the International Criminal Court in December 2003... they are now under obligations and made a commitment," the court's spokesperson Sandra Khadouri told the BBC's Network Africa programme.

Ugandan soldiers guarding civilians in a truck in northern Uganda
Ugandans civilians live in fear of rebel attacks

According to a press release from Uganda's State House, during a meeting with British overseas development minister, Hilary Benn, the Ugandan president said the rebel leader had until the end of July to end the war peacefully.

"If he got serious about a peaceful settlement, the government of Uganda would guarantee his safety," the statement added.

But Ms Khadouri said the charges against Mr Kony and four other LRA commanders were "serious international crimes".

These included "murders, abductions, mass burning of houses, looting of entire villages, massive destruction, enslavement and inducement of rape", she said.

The United Nations says 25,000 children have been abducted by the LRA since the rebellion began, to be used as sex slaves or to fight against the Ugandan army.

"The governments are Uganda, Sudan and Democratic Republic of Congo are under a legal obligation to cooperate with the ICC," Ms Khadouri said.

The BBC's Will Ross in Kampala says Southern Sudanese Vice-President Riek Machar recently met the rebel leadership, including Joseph Kony on two occasions.

Some people will ask why he was not arrested, he says.

Past attempts to negotiate an end to the war have failed, with both the Ugandan government and the rebels being accused of lacking commitment to peace talks.

The LRA has been weakened by a military offensive, but in recent months, the rebels have spread across southern Sudan and into DR Congo.

Meanwhile, some displaced Ugandans are returning home, but sporadic attacks in northern Uganda continue to keep some 1.5m people in squalid camps.


Is amnesty the right way to bring peace?

Your comments:

Amnesty cannot be an alternative to justice and peace. Sustainable peace should be attained through a process that brings to book the perpetrators of human rights abuse during conflicts so as to put am end to impunity. Only through this shall we send a clear message to the Konys of this world. The ICC should pursue all the parties to the conflict in northern Uganda.
Opiyo Nicholas, Gulu, Uganda

Yes I believe that the ICC has the right to demand the LRA leader, but I have a feeling that nothing serious will be done. Yes they will try him and will do a big job, but I think at the end of the day, the judges will pass a judgement for him to be hanged. Yes Ugandans will say that is a fair judgement but some like me will not be happy because after all that Kony has done he will be kept at The Hague in a five star room. I see no reason of going to court I think Kony should be given to us (Ugandans) so we can kill him by stoning. For sure this will be a fair trail.
Mugabe Mark, Kampala, Uganda

If the government of Uganda knew that it had the capacity to end the war peacefully, why did it take matters to the ICC in 2003? It's very clear to the whole word that the Ugandan government is incapable of implementing justice, so let Kony and his four commanders be tried by the ICC since his (Kony) acts can be clearly handled and addressed by the criminal courts.
Nicholas, Kampala, Uganda

Visit the IDP camps in northern Uganda and the rehabilitation centres for abducted children and you know that Kony must be brought to trial. The Ugandan government and military have failed to resolve this appalling crisis. Sadly, it seems that only an international task force will ensure Kony's capture and restore hope for millions.
Mike, London, UK

The danger of no punishment sends the signal that the bigger the crime the less likely there is to be no punishment. However, the threaten punishment does not leave an incentive to stop the violence. If there were an easy answer to this question we would not see the plethora of different responses, from the Court in Arusha for Rwanda to South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission to the comfortable exile of the likes of Idi Amin. What is clear is that justice and peace do not always go hand in hand.
Cathryn, London

I think Joseph Kony is a real devil not a believer as I can see; therefore he must be captured and taken to justice. What he did and is still doing both in Uganda and southern Sudan is what couldn't be forgotten by the families of those victims. He is a destructor but not a liberator for northern Ugandans as he claims, he continues to keep northern Uganda, "his home area", burning endless. Those leaders or friends supporting him in Africa or outside Africa would be tried along with Mr Joseph Kony as soon as he is caught, this is to end such practices in the continent.
Jomo, Khartoum, Sudan

I think the ICC must stay out of this, it will only make matters worse. I did not like what happened to Charles Taylor - he was advised to give up power, and now he is arrested. If things continue like this, no one will take African leaders seriously. Let African leaders make their own decisions.
Mpho, Pretoria, South Africa

Joseph Kony is a sorcerer, a wizard, a necromancer, a warlock, a conjurer of spirits and an enchanter. How can anyone, anyone, anyone, negotiate with such a man?
Ella, Nairobi Kenya

The war in northern Uganda has lasted for 20 years, without any tangible progress towards ending it, despite the government's relentless military campaign. It wouldn't serve interests of the victims, to indict Joseph Kony when he continues to elude capture and at the same time mastermind his killings. The government should extend its amnesty to Joseph Kony just as it did to other rebel commanders.
Nyende Farouk, Kampala, Uganda

I think the Ugandan government should admit to the international arena that it cannot win this war on its own, and should appeal for help in destroying these evil rebels. I also think the UK should be the first government to offer troops, much as we did in Sierra Leone, where we ended the civil war. These evil people must be stopped, and we have the power to do it. Shame there's no oil or minerals in Uganda, or we'd have been there years ago.
Dan, United Kingdom

The court is right. I think that Museveni is not doing all he can to arrest Kony in order to continue to receive aid money for the refugee camps. But the camps themselves aren't in great shape - no sanitary napkins for women, for example. Instead, the Musevenis get to invest in new construction projects in Kampala. It's an intolerable situation that the international community should not continue to support.
KC, Atlanta, GA, USA

With all the hideous crimes committed by himself and his cronies. Kony must stand trial. He must be hunted down and handed to the ICC for justice. Think about the Aboke girl's fate and the innocent civilians of northern Uganda who were hacked to death.
Alex, Kasese, Uganda

To end the conflict they must terminate the leader and the senior officers of the LRA. A peace deal is not going to happen when the LRA leader is obviously mentally unstable. He wants Uganda to be ruled by the Bible and yet he is unwilling to be ruled by it. I am positive the Bible does not condone the abductions and use of children as sex slaves. If only Uganda had oil then maybe the US could have gone in and rid the country of this disease called the LRA.
Tara, Winnipeg, Canada

Mr Kony's crimes aren't sovereign to Uganda, and I wonder what the war-torn Sudanese or DR Congolese think of calls to offer the Bible-thumping terrorist amnesty.
Brady, Charleston, South Carolina, USA

The ICC is right to demand for the arrest and trial of the LRA rebel leader. If Uganda offers amnesty to Joseph Kony it will be postponing a problem instead of solving it once and for all. The only way of solving this problem is by arresting these commanders and try them in court, the remnants who are still marauding around the villages should be handled militarily because there is no way they are going to surrender unless under pressure from the army that will be pursuing them, these rebels surrender only when under attack from the army.

Besides that the government should resettle the people who are in the camps back to the villages and deploy soldiers in every village, this will have reduced on the space these rebels have in those villages so that their free movement is cut off. I say so because they are able to plan attacks because they have enough space to set their ambushes and of course there are no people in the villages to inform the army about strangers in the surroundings.
Alex, Lira, Uganda

The Ugandan government should allow the ICC to do its work. Otherwise the people in north will never get peace. The government is using this opportunity for its own gains. I think there is no need to say Kony should be given amnesty when he has killed thousands of people. Will the amnesty bring back the people he murdered?
Muhanguzi, Mbarara, Uganda

ICC is absolutely right to demand that Joseph Kony stands trial irrespective of the offer of amnesty by the Ugandan president. If Mr Kony thinks that he has any case, he should face up to the ICC to make the case. After all, this is no longer a Ugandan court but a world affair. Africans can no longer thrive on intimidation to achieve their aims.
Kenneth, Louisville, USA

It is absolutely imperative that justice is executed and that Joseph Kony stands trial. Clearly the Ugandan government is not capable of implementing justice, thus, the ICC has an obligation to insure that Kony's acts of barbarity are addressed and handled properly. As in the Darfur conflict, international courts and military should be brought in to bring an end to this desecration of the Ugandan children and communities.
Julie, Washington DC, USA



RELATED BBC LINKS

RELATED INTERNET LINKS
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites



FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

PRODUCTS & SERVICES

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific