ICC Prosecutor Pushes for Hearing of Charges Against Kony in His Absence

The Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court – ICC, Karim Asad Ahmad Khan has filed a request before the Pre-Trial Chamber II of the Court seeking authorization to hold a hearing on the confirmation of charges against Joseph Kony, the leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army – LRA in his absence.

In his statement released on Thursday, Khan disclosed that it is the first time that his office has made such a request since the establishment of the ICC on July 1, 2002.

The ICC issued the arrest warrant against Kony, the founder of the LRA 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 the civilian population.

However, this arrest warrant remains unexecuted to this day after Kony evaded judicial proceedings at the Court for more than 17 years despite continuing efforts of the Registry of the ICC to locate and apprehend him – assisted by partner States.

“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,” part of Khan’s statement read.

He added that, “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,” Khan’s statement further read. Should the Pre-Trial Chamber grant his request, the Prosecutor hopes that this would represent a meaningful milestone for victims of Kony’s crimes who have waited patiently for justice for almost two decades.

Khan rallied States to redouble efforts to execute the arrest warrant issued by the Pre-Trial Chamber 17 years ago. He outlined in his application that these proceedings would also provide an opportunity to present the depth of evidence to support the allegations of his criminal activities and allow for witnesses and survivors to provide their accounts to the Court.

If the charges are confirmed in his absence, Khan notes that a future trial following the arrest of Kony could be taken forward faster and more effectively, in accordance with rule 126(3) of the Rules.

Khan, 51, was elected as Prosecutor of the ICC on 12 February 2021 at the nineteenth session of the Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute in New York and sworn in on 16 June 2021. He replaced Fatou Bensouda of Gambia. 

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