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Request to hold hearing on confirmation of charges against Joseph Kony in his absence

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Statement of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Karim A.A. Khan KC

Today, I filed a request before Pre-Trial Chamber II of the International Criminal Court  (ICC) seeking authorisation to hold a hearing on the confirmation of charges against  Joseph Kony in his absence. This is the first time that my Office has made such a request since the establishment of the ICC.  

The investigation into the situation in Uganda was opened in 2004. The arrest warrant against Joseph Kony, the founder and leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army, was issued in 2005 for 33 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity. The allegations against him include murder, cruel treatment, enslavement, rape, and attacks against civilian population.   

However, this arrest warrant remains unexecuted to this day. Mr Kony has sought to evade judicial proceedings at this Court for more than 17 years despite continuing efforts by my Office and the Registry of the ICC to locate and apprehend him – assisted by States, international organisations, and civil society actors. I have determined it is both necessary and appropriate to seek to advance proceedings against him to the fullest extent compatible with the Rome Statute. 

After a careful review of the circumstances, I have accordingly requested the Pre-Trial Chamber to hold a hearing to confirm the charges against Mr Kony in his absence pursuant to article 61(2)(b) of the Rome Statute and rules 123 and 125 of the Rules of Procedure and Evidence.

In parallel, my Office will intensify its work towards the arrest of Mr Kony who is the ICC’s longest standing suspect at large. 

Should the Pre-Trial Chamber grant my request, it is my hope that this would represent a meaningful milestone for victims of Mr Kony’s crimes who have waited patiently for justice for almost two decades. It is a step that we can take together with civil society partners and with the direct engagement and participation of impacted communities. I will also renew my call to States to redouble efforts to execute the arrest warrant issued by the Pre-Trial Chamber 17 years ago.

As outlined in our application, these proceedings would also provide an opportunity to present the depth of evidence supporting the allegations of his criminal activities and allow for witnesses and survivors to provide their accounts to the Court. Crucially, if the charges are confirmed in his absence, a future trial following the arrest of Mr Kony could be taken forward faster and more effectively, in accordance with rule 126(3) of the Rules.

I have been clear since taking up the position of Prosecutor that my Office will be unwavering in its attempts “to guarantee lasting respect for and enforcement of international criminal justice”, as the Preamble to the Rome Statute mandates. Today is an important step in delivering on that promise in relation to the situation in Uganda and to provide impacted communities their opportunity to engage with the Court more fully in our common work towards justice.

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