Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni announced Tuesday that if peace talks are successful, he will grant amnesty to Joseph Kony, head of a Ugandan terrorist organization, despite the atrocities Kony has committed over the past 19 years. Under Kony’s leadership, the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) has killed thousands and kidnapped approximately 20,000 Ugandan children. Many of the girls kidnapped by the LRA were forced into sex slavery, according to the BBC.
“Kony was abducting girls to offer them as rewards to his commanders,” International Criminal Court (ICC) Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo told news service AllAfrica. Girls and women who are released following their abduction often returned home with HIV infections and children born of rape. According to a Ms. Spring 2006 report, countless women have faced shame and rejection upon their arrival from the LRA camps and must rely on non-governmental organizations (NGOs) for support.
Museveni’s promise of amnesty is contingent on the outcome of peace talks to be held next week between the Ugandan government and the LRA rebels. Ugandan officials told the BBC that Museveni would grant Kony amnesty if he “responds positively to the talks…and abandons terrorism.” However, according to a BBC report on Wednesday, the ICC will continue to pursue an arrest of the fallen LRA leader, who currently faces a 33-count indictment, including 12 counts of crimes against humanity for the atrocities he has committed against women and young children. Said UN Humanitarian Affairs Chief Jan Egeland to the BBC, “[Kony’s actions are] terrorism of the worst kind anywhere in the world.”