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Arrest Warrants For Five Ugandan Rebels

Annan Hails International Criminal Court's Arrest Warrants For Five Ugandan Rebels

New York, Oct 14 2005

Issuing its first-ever arrest warrants, the International Criminal Court (ICC) has targeted five Ugandan rebel leaders on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity – a move welcomed today by United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

The unsealed warrants should "send a powerful signal around the world that those responsible for such crimes will be held accountable for their actions," Mr. Annan, who was in Spain, said through his spokesman.

Since the ICC only intendedto prosecute those Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) senior leaders alleged to bear the greatest responsibility for the most serious crimes, the Secretary-General urged "all eligible LRA combatants to take advantage of existing disarmament and reintegration programmes."

"He is mindful that many of those associated with the LRA were abducted as children and are therefore victims themselves, in need of assistance," the spokesman said.

Unsealing the warrants yesterday, ICC Pre-Trial Chamber II said: "The Chamber concluded that "there are reasonable grounds to believe" that Joseph Kony, Vincent Otti, Okot Odhiambo, Dominic Ongwen and Raska Lukwiya "ordered the commission of crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court."

In his statement, the Secretary-General also condemned the on-going violence in northern Uganda and called on all concerned to "cease all acts of violence against the civilian population."

"He hopes that people of northern Uganda will soon be able to enjoy peace and a return to normalcy after 19 years of turmoil and despair," the spokesman said. "He supports all efforts to reach a peaceful resolution of the conflict."

Mr. Annan also called on all States, especially those in the region, to cooperate with the ICC by such actions as acting expeditiously to execute arrest warrants against the suspects, while taking seriously their responsibility to protect civilians, particularly women and children.

He urged the international community to continue to help provide humanitarian assistance to civilians affected by the northern Ugandan conflict.

ENDS

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