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Gov’t To Probe Allegations Of LRA Funding, Sex Slave Trade By ICC Official

The Government has picked interest in investigating the allegations against a former International Criminal Court (ICC) official over facilitating and financing the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebel leader Joseph Kony.

This comes just two days after Brigid Inder, a former Special Gender Advisor to former ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bansouda (2012-2016) was accused by LRA victims through their lawyer Joanna Frivet of funding the rebel leader between 2006 and 2017.

In a press statement released on September 21, Frivet revealed that numerous victims of the LRA alleged that Inder who was the founding Executive Director of Women’s Initiatives for Gender Justice (WIGJ) personally and through intermediaries funded the LRA warlord.

Frivet alleges that witnesses who were former LRA abductees cite meetings that reportedly happened in the Garamba National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The first meeting reportedly took place in June 2006 and later others in 2007, 2008, 2010, and 2013. In each of the meetings, Inder allegedly handed cash in dollar bills in bags and envelopes to Kony.

Inder was also accused of reportedly using the junior staff of her organization WIGJ in The Hague, Netherlands to transfer large amounts of money through the Western Union and later picked by LRA members in Juba, South Sudan.

According to the press statement, Frivet is also accused of human trafficking for sexual slavery after two out of five women she purportedly took to meet Kony in 2016 in Garamba were forcibly retained by LRA soldiers. The women who are former “wives” of high-ranking LRA commanders were identified through a partnership of local NGOs in Northern Uganda.

Uganda’s Attorney General Kiryowa Kiwanuka told URN in an interview Friday that the government has been informed about the allegations and has since commenced the processes of conducting an independent investigation.

“We did receive the information, the government is going to investigate the matter and has already commenced the processes,” says Kiwanuka.

He added: “This is a serious criminal allegation and if found to be correct, the person will be prosecuted. We shall prosecute the person in accordance with the laws of Uganda.”

He however remained tight-lipped on whether the government will liaise with the ICC to conduct the investigation.

The State Minister for Foreign Affairs Henry Okello Oryem says the revelation has exposed the truth about LRA’s alleged Western sponsors citing that even when the government made it clear in the past, no one cared to listen.

“The Government and many of us have for years during the LRA been making it clear that there were Western sponsors of LRA disguising as NGOs, but nobody listened or they deliberately choose to be deaf…” says Oryem in a statement shared through WhatsApp.

Oryem says he is happy the truth is finally out.

“I am happy that today the truth and nothing else but the truth is finally out…,” says Oryem.

Inder however in a press statement seen by Uganda Radio Network refuted the allegations describing them as sensational and untrue.

Inder said she had never met Kony before or even handed envelopes of money to the fugitive LRA leader.

“I have never met Mr. Joseph Kony, I have never handed Mr. Kony envelopes full of money. I have never trafficked sex slaves or engaged in any form of trafficking. I have never recruited former ‘wives’ of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) commanders to take them to Mr. Kony in the bush,” Inder’s statement read in part.

Inder also noted that she had never resourced or engaged in any activities that were intended to support the military aspirations and conflict-related activities of the LRA.

Efforts to get comments from the ICC Outreach coordinator for East Africa Maria Mabinty Kamara were futile as she didn’t reply to our request on the allegations on her official email.

The LRA led by Kony waged a violent rebellion against President Museveni’s government from 1987 for two decades resulting in the death of more than 100,000 people and the displacement of 1.5 million people in Northern Uganda.

In 2005, the ICC indicted the fugitive LRA leader Kony, and four other top commanders including his second-in-command Vincent Otti, Dominic Ongwen, Okot Odhiambo, and Raska Lukwiya for war crimes in Northern Uganda.

Cases against Lukwiya and Odhiambo were withdrawn following their deaths in 2006 and 2013 respectively while Otti’s death remains unconfirmed. Ongwen however became the first among the top five indicted to be prosecuted and sentenced to 25 years in prison by the ICC.

-URN

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