Ugandan Rebel Wanted by ICC Starts a PR Campaign

by Julian Ku

In a rare interview with Western journalists, Ugandan rebel leader Vincent Otti, one of four individuals named in an ICC arrest warrant, accuses the ICC of hypocrisy for failing to pursue Ugandan government officials for war crimes. This is not really a surprising argument and Otti is hardly a credible accuser. Indeed, he does not appear to know the difference between the ICJ and the ICC. Still, I wouldn’t count on him surrendering anytime soon.

No government leader in power has been arrested or tried” in international tribunals, said LRA commander Vincent Otti, who himself is the target of an arrest warrant for war crimes and crimes against humanity by the fledgling International Criminal Court, ICC, based in The Hague.

Speaking by satellite phone from the LRA’s guerrilla headquarters, deep in the bush of the 5000-square-kilometre Garamba National Park, in the northeast of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Otti told IWPR, “If this institution [the ICC] is really designed to try anybody suspected of crimes against humanity, then it should also be trying the Ugandan People’s Defence Force.”

The UPDF, the armed forces of the government of Uganda, and the LRA have been locked in a 21-year-long civil war in northern Uganda that has seen more than 100,000 people die, some 1.7 million people uprooted from their homes and made internal refugees, and an estimated 38,000 children aged as young as seven and eight years abducted by the rebels to serve as guerrilla fighters, porters and sex slaves.

“Thomas Lubanga was arrested because he was suspected of being a rebel, but if he had been the president of a country he would not be behind bars now in a European prison,” said Otti, who is deputy to the LRA leader Joseph Kony.

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