By Emmanuel Omona PaOkech
The Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Fatou Bensouda, has issued a message to the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) on ICC warrants and processes.
Bensouda in her letter argues that, “Information reaching the Office of the Prosecutor indicates that members of the LRA are being misled that they will be killed or tortured by the ICC if they try to escape”.
Bensouda explained that the ICC has investigated and issued pending arrest warrants against only LRA top commanders Joseph Kony, Okot Odhiambo and Dominic Ogwen.
She e noted that if these commanders surrender to ICC, they will not be tortured or killed.
“All their human rights will be protected and the case against them will be in accordance with accepted international human rights standards”, Bensouda explained.
She also added that, “They will face a fair, impartial and public justice that respects all their rights, including the right to be represented by a lawyer of their choice, and to present evidence in their defense. If convicted they will not be sentenced to death: The ICC does not impose the death penalty”.
The ICC also appealed to the LRA to abandon violence, stop committing crimes and follow the bold steps of others before they have returned home.
The ICC message has also been translated into French, Acholi, Sango, Swahili and Lingala will be transmitted in Uganda, and in areas of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic and Southern Sudan where the LRA remains active.
In 2005, ICC judges issued warrants of arrest for Joseph Kony and other senior LRA commanders Okot Odhiambo and Dominic Ongwen, for crimes against humanity and war crimes allegedly committed in northern Uganda: murder, enslavement, sexual enslavement, rape attack against civilian population, pillage, forced enlistment of children, other inhumane acts. These warrants remain outstanding.