The government of Uganda has shown interest in examining allegations against a former International Criminal Court (ICC) official accused of assisting and funding the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebel leader Joseph Kony.
This development comes just two days after Brigid Inder, a former Special Gender Advisor to former ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bansouda (2012-2016), was accused by LRA victims, represented by their lawyer Joanna Frivet, of financially supporting the rebel leader from 2006 to 2017.
In a press statement released on September 21, Frivet revealed that multiple LRA victims claimed Inder, who served as the founding Executive Director of Women’s Initiatives for Gender Justice (WIGJ), personally and through intermediaries provided funding to the LRA warlord.
Frivet alleges that former LRA abductees, now witnesses, reported meetings that purportedly took place in the Garamba National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo. These meetings occurred in June 2006 and subsequently in 2007, 2008, 2010, and 2013. During these encounters, Inder allegedly handed over cash in U.S. dollar bills in bags and envelopes to Kony.
Additionally, Inder has been accused of using junior staff from her organization, WIGJ, located in The Hague, Netherlands, to transfer large sums of money via Western Union. These funds were allegedly collected by LRA members in Juba, South Sudan.
According to the press statement, Frivet also alleges involvement in human trafficking for sexual slavery. In 2016, two out of five women purportedly taken by Inder to meet Kony in Garamba were reportedly forcibly retained by LRA soldiers. These women, who were former “wives” of high-ranking LRA commanders, were identified through cooperation with local NGOs in Northern Uganda.
Uganda’s Attorney General, Kiryowa Kiwanuka, stated in an interview on Friday that the government has been made aware of these allegations and has initiated an independent investigation.
“We did receive the information; the government is going to investigate the matter and has already begun the process,” Kiwanuka said. He added, “This is a serious criminal allegation, and if found to be correct, the person will be prosecuted. We shall prosecute the person in accordance with the laws of Uganda.” However, he did not disclose whether the government would collaborate with the ICC on the investigation.
State Minister for Foreign Affairs Henry Okello Oryem pointed out that the revelation has exposed the truth about alleged Western sponsors of the LRA, emphasizing that even though the government had previously made such claims, they went unheard.
“The Government and many of us have, for years during the LRA, been making it clear that there were Western sponsors of LRA disguising as NGOs, but nobody listened or they deliberately chose to be deaf,” Oryem stated in a message shared via WhatsApp. He expressed satisfaction that the truth had finally come to light.
In response, Inder released a press statement to Uganda Radio Network, denying the allegations and describing them as sensational and untrue.
Inder firmly stated, “I have never met Mr. Joseph Kony, I have never handed Mr. Kony envelopes full of money. I have never trafficked sex slaves or engaged in any form of trafficking. I have never recruited former ‘wives’ of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) commanders to take them to Mr. Kony in the bush.”
She also asserted that she had never provided resources or engaged in any activities intended to support the military aspirations and conflict-related activities of the LRA.
Efforts to obtain comments from the ICC Outreach coordinator for East Africa, Maria Mabinty Kamara, were unsuccessful as she did not respond to inquiries sent to her official email.
The LRA, led by Kony, waged a violent rebellion against President Museveni’s government from 1987 for two decades, resulting in the deaths of over 100,000 people and the displacement of 1.5 million individuals in Northern Uganda.
In 2005, the ICC indicted the fugitive LRA leader Kony and four other top commanders, 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, however, became the first among the top five indicted to be prosecuted and sentenced to 25 years in prison by the ICC.