Uganda’s Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebels have abducted at least 100 children from neighbouring countries to use as sex slaves and porters, an international human rights group said on Monday.
Peace talks between Uganda and the rebels appeared to stall last month when LRA leader Joseph Kony, wanted for war crimes, failed to appear at a signing ceremony on the Sudan/Democratic Republic Congo (RDC) border.
”Kony and the LRA took advantage of the breathing room given to them and appear to be terrorising civilians yet again,” said Richard Dicker, international justice director at Human Rights Watch (HRW).
”Concerned governments and United Nations officials cannot sit by while the LRA goes on a criminal rampage, committing heinous abuses against children and other people,” he said in a statement.
Rebel officials were not immediately available for comment.
Kony’s 21-year insurgency has claimed tens of thousands of lives and displaced two million people. Kony and two deputies are wanted for abducting children, massacres and mutilations.
The United States-based HRW accused rebels of kidnapping children in mineral-rich eastern DRC and oil-producing south Sudan, as well as the Central African Republic.
”Boys are made to act as porters or subjected to military training and girls are being used as sex slaves,” the statement said.
”Alleged LRA crimes and Kony’s month-long silence intensify questions as to whether the LRA is committed to the negotiations,” it added.
Uganda also questioned Kony’s commitment to the peace process after he failed to meet a delegation of northern Ugandan elders and Riek Machar, chief mediator and south Sudan vice-president. ”Kony made everybody wait for him … that is not a sign of peace,” Uganda’s negotiating team spokesperson, Captain Chris Magezi, said.
”The Uganda government is waiting for communication from the mediator and the way forward will be based on that.”
Kony has been seeking more details on Ugandan government plans to use traditional justice to help him avoid arrest by the International Criminal Court (ICC). — Reuters