In Trouble: Former ICC Staff Accused Of Funding Kony’s LRA Rebel Activities

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has been asked to investigate one of its former employees over allegations of facilitating and funding Joseph Kony, the fugitive leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebel group.

Brigid Inder, who was a Special Gender Advisor to former ICC Prosecutor, Fatou Bansouda (2012-2016) is accused of personally and through intermediaries funding the LRA warlord between 2006 and 2017.

Inder was the founder and former Executive Director of Women’s Initiatives for Gender Justice (WIGJ) who enjoyed a long career as a leading activist working on gender equality issues.

In a press statement released on Thursday, September 21, 2023, Joanna Frivet, a legal representative of former LRA child soldiers alleged that during the said period, Inder aided and abetted the commission of crimes against humanity in Uganda, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and then-Sudan/South Sudan.

Inder’s first contact with Kony reportedly happened in October 2006, in DRC through the intermediary of a known LRA supporter based in the UK. During this meeting, Inder reportedly handed over USD 25,000 (approximately UGX 85 million) as an appreciation for receiving her.

“Between December 2006 and October 2007, Inder allegedly transferred funds to the LRA on at least six occasions. According to direct witnesses, between 40,000 USD (about 136 million shillings) to 60,000 USD (204 million shillings) was transferred each time through Western Union and picked up by LRA commanders in Juba,” Frivet’s statement reads in Part.

The funds were purportedly sent from the UK in the name of a person used by Inder to first contact Kony and used for buying bullets, hand grenades, bombs, and various types of weapons including AK47 assault rifles from the Janjaweed faction. She reportedly used Junior staff members of her organization to transfer the funds from the Netherlands in their own names through Western Union to LRA members.

Inder is also accused of two incidences of human trafficking for sexual slavery. It’s reported that in 2016, when she visited Kony in Garamba National Park in the DRC, Kony requested her to bring back his “wives” who had escaped from LRA captivity. This request was allegedly honored by Inder who decided to partner with local organizations in Northern Uganda that worked with former LRA abductees to identify former wives of high-ranking LRA commanders.

In 2017, according to Frivet, Inder returned with five former LRA abductees whom she offered incentives to travel to Garamba along with a staff from a local partner organization, 31 Bits to meet Kony. Two of the women, a former “wife” to Vincent Otti and Kony’s “wife” were however, forcibly retained by the LRA rebels on Kony’s orders.

However, upon return from Garamba, Inder reportedly told the three women not to speak about the matter and their fate remains unknown to date.

“This incident is not only a blatant betrayal of trust but also a serious violation of the principles and values that Inder purportedly stood for,” the statement read.

Adding that “It is crucial that such actions are thoroughly investigated, and those responsible are held accountable for their actions, and the victims be appropriately compensated.”

Maria Mabinty Kamara, the ICC Outreach Coordinator for East Africa didn’t immediately reply to this reporter’s request for comment on the allegations against Inder in a request to her official’s email on Tuesday.

However, in a WhatsApp chat on Wednesday, Kamara stated, “We have been encountering challenges with the official email system since last week. I will respond to your email when the problem gets resolved and can recess my emails.”

Ugandan Government Spokesperson, Ofwono Opondo also offered no comment on the matter when contacted by telephone on Wednesday.

Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) Spokesperson, Brig Felix Kulaigye, however, said that, the army hadn’t yet received the information on the allegations.

Kony waged a bloody rebellion against Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni in 1986, spanning two decades resulting in the death of more than 100,000 people and the displacement of 1.5 million people in Northern Uganda.

In 2005, the ICC, established in 2002 to hold accountable those who committed some of the worst crimes in the world, issued an arrest warrant against Kony along with four other top commanders of the LRA including his second-in-command, Vincent Otti, Dominic Ongwen, Okot Odhiambo, and Raska Lukwiya for war crimes in Northern Uganda. Cases against Lukwiya and Odhiambo were withdrawn following their deaths in 2006 and 2013 respectively, while Otti’s death remains unconfirmed.

Ongwen was sentenced to 25 years in prison for rape, murder, and child abduction.

In November 2022, ICC Chief Prosecutor, Karim Khan asked the ICC judges for authorization to hold a hearing to confirm the charges against Kony, in his absence 17 years after the arrest warrant was issued.urn


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