LRA delegation meets ICC Registry officials 10 Mar 2008
Following the signing of a series of documents which may lead to a final peace agreement in northern Uganda, delegates from the LRA have met with ICC officials in The Hague.

International Criminal Court (ICC), The HagueOn 10 March 2008, a legal delegation from the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) – representatives of the rebel group which have been fighting a civil war in northern Uganda for more than 20 years – met with officials from the Registry of the International Criminal Court (ICC). The meeting with the ICC Registry’s Head of the Legal Advisory Services Section and Head of the Victims and Counsels Division came after the Court’s Prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, had earlier refused to meet with the LRA representatives.

With international warrants out for their arrest, the LRA’s leaders themselves have not taken a direct role in the recent negotiations with the Government of Uganda. On 13 October 2005, Pre-Trial Chamber II at the ICC unsealed five arrest warrants against the rebel leaders for crimes against humanity and war crimes committed in Uganda since 2002.

Proceedings against one of the accused, Raska Lukwiya, have since been discontinued following his death. One of the LRA’s other senior commanders, Vincent Otti, died in late 2007 – allegedly killed at the behest of Joseph Kony, the leader of the guerrilla group and himself an ICC fugitive.

While the visiting delegation are endeavouring to get the ICC to drop the charges against the remaining LRA leaders in favour of traditional justice mechanisms within the Ugandan judicial system, the meeting on Monday, 10 March, was designated merely to discuss procedural issues related to the legal representation of the accused.

In the ICC’s own language, “[a]s a neutral organ that facilitates fair trial, the Registry does not engage in substantive discussions with any of the parties on the merits of cases before the Court.”

Vincent Otti, who died in late 2007, was allegedly killed at the behest of LRA leader Joseph Kony.Final peace accord beckoning

In February 2008, the Ugandan government and the LRA signed a series of documents in peace talks mediated by Riek Machar, the Vice President of Southern Sudan. Despite the mediation efforts, Kony and the LRA leaders have vowed not to sign a final peace agreement with the government in Kampala until the ICC charges have been dropped.

For its part, the Ugandan government seems increasingly likely to request that the UN Security Council defer the case from the ICC to the Ugandan courts. The Government of Uganda had referred the situation concerning the rebellion in the north of the country to the Prosecutor of the ICC on 16 December 2003.

ICC press release

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