Amid reports that the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) is again brutalizing civilians and in advance of the anticipated December 17 Security Council briefing by the UN Secretary-General's special envoy for the LRA-affected areas, we write to urge your government to take steps toward helping to end LRA abuses and paving the way for apprehension of LRA leaders wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC). Specifically, we urge your government to support a strong Security Council presidential statement following the special envoy's briefing.
As you may know, there are credible reports that the LRA, after a period of relative calm, in February 2008 renewed committing atrocities in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Southern Sudan, and the Central African Republic. Reports of further LRA atrocities have emerged in the past few months. Although we have not yet investigated the most recent allegations, consistent reports-including from UN and local sources-indicate that the LRA committed abductions, killings, and pillaging in Orientale Province, DRC from mid-September through November.
Suspected war criminals roaming freely between countries and committing new atrocities should not be tolerated. While joint efforts by the UN observer mission for the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUC) and by the Congolese armed forces to contain the LRA have been initiated, much more is needed to stop the LRA's threat to civilians and to ensure that justice is done. As you know, MONUC remains overstretched, especially given recent developments in the Kivus, while the poor human rights record and weak capacity of the Congolese armed forces raise further concerns.
In this context, a clear, strong signal from the Security Council on recent abuses and on the need for fugitives to be arrested is important. A statement should in our view express grave concern over LRA abuses; underscore the importance of justice to achieving a sustainable peace; insist on fair, credible prosecutions of the most serious crimes by both sides in the northern Uganda conflict; and call for greater attention and coordination to develop a viable plan to apprehend ICC suspects by regional governments, UN actors, and other key governments with relevant capacity who are active on northern Uganda. We sincerely hope that your government will support an appropriate presidential statement and would welcome the opportunity to discuss this with you in greater detail.
International Justice Program Director
Africa Division Director
UN Advocacy Director