The International Criminal Court (ICC) has received a request to investigate one of its former employees for allegedly assisting and funding Joseph Kony, the leader of the rebel group known as the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). Brigid Inder, who served as a Special Gender Advisor to former ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bansouda from 2012 to 2016, is accused of providing financial support to the LRA leader both personally and through intermediaries between 2006 and 2017.
Inder, previously the founder and Executive Director of Women’s Initiatives for Gender Justice (WIGJ), had a notable career as an advocate for gender equality. In a statement released on September 21, Joanna Frivet, a legal representative of former LRA child soldiers, alleged that during the mentioned period, Inder contributed to crimes against humanity in Uganda, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and the then-Sudan/South Sudan.
Inder’s initial contact with Kony reportedly occurred in October 2006 in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) through a known LRA supporter based in the UK. During this meeting, Inder allegedly gave Kony $25,000 (approximately 85 million Ugandan shillings) as an expression of appreciation.
“Between December 2006 and October 2007, Inder is said to have transferred funds to the LRA on multiple occasions. Witnesses claim that each transfer ranged from $40,000 (about 136 million shillings) to $60,000 (204 million shillings) and was made through Western Union, with LRA commanders in Juba picking up the funds,” read Frivet’s statement.
The funds were purportedly sent from the UK under a name used by Inder to initially contact Kony. They were allegedly used to purchase ammunition, hand grenades, bombs, and various weapons, including AK47 assault rifles, from the Janjaweed faction. Reportedly, junior staff members of her organization were used to transfer funds from the Netherlands in their own names through Western Union to LRA members.
Inder also faces accusations of two instances of human trafficking for sexual slavery. It is reported that in 2016, during a visit to Kony in Garamba National Park in the DRC, Kony requested her to bring back his “wives” who had escaped LRA captivity. Allegedly, Inder complied and partnered with local organizations in Northern Uganda to identify former wives of high-ranking LRA commanders.
In 2017, Inder reportedly returned with five former LRA abductees, providing them with incentives to travel to Garamba along with a staff member from a local partner organization, 31 Bits, to meet Kony. However, two of the women, one formerly married to Vincent Otti and another considered Kony’s “wife,” were allegedly forcibly retained by LRA rebels on Kony’s orders.
Upon their return from Garamba, Inder reportedly instructed the three women not to speak about the matter, and their current status remains unknown. Frivet’s statement expressed strong condemnation, stating, “This incident represents not only a severe betrayal of trust but also a significant violation of the principles and values that Ms. Inder purportedly stood for.”
The statement continued, “It is imperative that such actions are thoroughly investigated, those responsible are held accountable, and appropriate compensation is provided to the victims.” Maria Mabinty Kamara, the ICC Outreach Coordinator for East Africa, did not immediately respond to inquiries about the allegations against Inder due to ongoing issues with the official email system.
Ugandan Government Spokesperson Ofwono Opondo also declined to comment on the matter when reached by telephone on Wednesday. The Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) Spokesperson, Brig. Felix Kulaigye, stated that the army had not yet received information regarding the allegations.
Joseph Kony led a violent rebellion against Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni starting in 1986, lasting for two decades and resulting in the deaths of over 100,000 people and the displacement of 1.5 million individuals in Northern Uganda.
In 2005, the ICC, established in 2002 to hold individuals accountable for the most serious international crimes, issued arrest warrants against Kony and four other top LRA commanders, including Vincent Otti, Dominic Ongwen, Okot Odhiambo, and Raska Lukwiya, for war crimes in Northern Uganda. Lukwiya and Odhiambo’s cases 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 charges including rape, murder, and child abduction. In November of the previous year, ICC Chief Prosecutor Karim Khan requested authorization from ICC judges to hold a hearing to confirm charges against Kony, even in his absence, 17 years after the issuance of the arrest warrant.