The U.S. put a price on the head of Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony as it expanded a program that pays as much as $5 million for information on fugitives who’ve committed crimes against humanity.
The U.S. program permits rewards for information leading to the arrest, transfer, or conviction of people accused of atrocities including genocide or war crimes. Kony, leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army, was added to the wanted list today.
“We act today so there can be justice for the innocent men, women and children who have been subjected to mass murder, to rape, to amputation, enslavement and other atrocities,” Stephen J. Rapp, ambassador-at-large for war crimes issues, said at a State Department briefing in Washington.
The program initially offered rewards for people indicted by international tribunals that focused on the former Yugoslavia, Sierra Leone, and Rwanda. Rapp said the expansion could one day cover atrocities in places such as Syria, where the United Nations has accused forces directed by President Bashar al-Assad of crimes against humanity.
Rapp said the U.S. is offering payments for information about two other Lord’s Resistance Army leaders and about Sylvestre Mudacumura, leader of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda.
A bill to extend the program was drafted by Representative Ed Royce, the California Republican who leads the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and then-Senator John Kerry, a Massachusetts Democrat who headed the Senate Foreign Relations Committee before becoming secretary of state. President Barack Obama signed it into law on Jan. 15.
The program, managed by Rapp’s Office of Global Criminal Justice in the State Department, covers foreign nationals accused of crimes against humanity by any international tribunal.
Since 1988, the program has been “a valuable tool to promote accountability for the worst crimes known to humankind,” Rapp said. The U.S. has made 14 payments that averaged about $400,000 per person, he said, with the largest reward amounting to $2 million.
The payments are calculated based on the risk to the informant, the value of the information, and the level of the alleged perpetrator, Rapp said.
A United Nations report released in February said Syrian regime forces and its associated militias have committed crimes against humanity such as murder, torture, and rape. The report also said rebels opposing the regime have committed war crimes, including murder, torture, looting and hostage-taking.
Both sides are using child soldiers, the report said, noting the government’s use of fighters younger than 18 of age and the rebels’ recruitment of fighters younger than 15.
The UN commission responsible for the report said in February that it would submit a confidential list of Syrians suspected of committing crimes against humanity to Navi Pillay, the UN high commissioner for human rights, in March.
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