“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.
LRA leader Joseph Kony. .Courtesy Photo
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 rebel Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA).
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 war lord 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 September
21, 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
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 US$ 25,000 (approximately Shillings 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 Ms. Inder purportedly stood for," read the statement.
Adding that “It is crucial that such actions
are thoroughly investigated, that 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 officials email 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
Uganda People’s Defence Forces
(UPDF) Spokesperson Brig. Felix Kulaigye however said 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 sentence
for rape, murder, and child abduction.
In November last year, 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.
Bureau Chief, West Acholi