Statement of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Fatou Bensouda, following the surrender and transfer of top LRA Commander Dominic Ongwen.
I welcome the news that Dominic Ongwen, a high ranking commander of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), has surrendered and been transferred to the custody of the International Criminal Court (ICC). I am grateful for the persistent efforts of the Government of Uganda, the Government of the Central African Republic, the Uganda People’s Defence Force, the African Union Regional Task Force, and generally, all who have helped realise this significant development.
Dominic Ongwen’s transfer brings us one step closer to ending the LRA’s reign of terror in the African Great Lakes region. For more than a quarter of a century, the LRA under Joseph Kony and his high command, that includes Ongwen, have terrorised the people of Northern Uganda and neighbouring countries. The LRA has reportedly killed tens of thousands and displaced millions of people; terrorised civilians, abducted children and forced them to kill and serve as sex slaves. They have hacked off limbs and horribly disfigured men, women and children.
In so doing, the LRA has committed unimaginable crimes against humanity and war crimes. My investigation demonstrates that Dominic Ongwen served as a high ranking commander within the LRA and that he is amongst those who bear the greatest responsibility for crimes within the jurisdiction of the ICC. His transfer to the Court’s custody sends a firm and unequivocal message that no matter how long it will take, the Office of the Prosecutor will not stop until the perpetrators of the most serious crimes of concern to the international community are prosecuted and face justice for their heinous crimes.
I urge all others that still remain within LRA ranks to abandon violence; stop committing crimes, and follow the bold steps of others before you.
I also encourage all States to renew and refocus efforts to secure the arrest of Joseph Kony as well as all other ICC fugitives. The victims of their crimes have waited far too long and deserve to see justice done.