Resolutions Encouraging U.S. to Keep the Pressure on Joseph Kony & the LRA Introduced in Senate & House
Jul 30 2015
WASHINGTON –There is a bipartisan, bicameral effort underway in Congress to encourage the United States and the international community to keep the pressure on wanted war criminal Joseph Kony and his Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) who have been terrorizing Central Africa for over two decades.
U.S. Senators John Boozman (R-AR) and Richard Durbin (D-IL) introduced a resolution today that condemns Kony and the LRA for the ongoing perpetration of crimes against humanity and urges continued support for the efforts of the U.S., African Union and regional governments to bring Kony and his associates to justice.
U.S. Representatives Jim McGovern (D-MA) and Joseph Pitts (R-PA), who are co-chairmen of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, introduced a companion resolution in the House of Representatives.
“I had the opportunity to travel the region when Kony and the LRA were actively terrorizing villagers, abducting kids to serve as child soldiers and sending them back to their village to murder and mutilate their families and neighbors. I have seen the physical scars of survivors. I have heard firsthand the stories of those fortunate enough to escape Kony’s clutches. Now that the LRA’s ability to carry out attacks has been dramatically reduced, and it’s leadership is on the run, it is imperative for the protection of basic human rights and the security of the region, that we finish the job by removing Kony and his senior leadership from the battlefield,” Boozman said.
“I’ve traveled to Uganda and met with survivors of unspeakable LRA violence,” Durbin said. “I saw firsthand the U.S.-funded programs doing incredible work to help victims and communities recover from the LRA. While the United States and Uganda have made notable progress, we should not stop until the LRA is no longer a threat to the families and communities of that region.”
“The U.S., Uganda and regional actors have made significant progress in combatting Kony and the LRA, but our work will not be done until they are caught and held accountable for the terrible atrocities they have committed,” McGovern said. “I am proud of the work we have done to protect local communities against LRA violence and provide support to former fighters, especially child soldiers, to recover from their ordeal and reintegrate into their communities. This week, I am pleased to join my colleagues on both sides of the aisle in introducing this important resolution. We will not rest until Kony and the LRA are brought to justice for their crimes and the families and communities of the region are safe.”
“Joseph Kony and his notorious Lord's Resistance Army terrorize the people of Central Africa with their vicious campaign of child abduction, sexual assault, and outright violence toward those who are different from them. They have both killed and abducted thousands of innocent civilians. Congress has a moral duty to speak out against this evil, and the Administration has an imperative to act,” Pitts said.
For over 25 years, Kony and his ruthless army have caused untold pain to children and families in central Africa. He and his militia are responsible for a litany of human rights violations including abduction, rape, torture and murder. According to the United Nations, Kony and the LRA are responsible for more than 100,000 deaths over the course of the conflict. They have forcibly recruited thousands of children to be used as soldiers and sex slaves and human rights groups indicate that over two million civilians have been displaced since Kony began terrorizing the region.
Since 2011, combat-equipped U.S. forces have been in Central Africa providing technical assistance to the efforts of regional forces that are protecting civilians, encouraging defections from the LRA and trying to bring Kony and his senior leadership to justice. Last year, President Obama increased the U.S. commitment to the mission.
Due to the continued efforts of the Regional Task Force of the African Union and U.S. military advisors, killings carried out by the LRA have dropped ninety percent since 2011 and approximately twenty-five percent of the core fighting force of the LRA has defected or otherwise been removed from the battlefield since January 2013.
However, attacks began increasing again in 2014 and efforts to protect civilians have been hampered by an inability to reach Kony and other LRA leaders who are believed to be hiding in Kafia Kingi, a Sudanese-controlled enclave on the border of Central African Republic and South Sudan. This has become a safe haven for Kony because regional troops hunting for him have been denied access to the territory.
The Boozman-Durbin resolution has bipartisan support as Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Jim Inhofe (R-OK), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Mike Rounds (R-SD), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Gary Peters (D-MI) and Ed Markey (D-MA) have all signed on as original cosponsors.
The bipartisan support for the McGovern-Pitts resolution includes Adam Smith (D-WA), Rodney Davis (R-IL), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Randy Neugebauer (R-TX), John Lewis (D-GA), Steve Israel (D-NY), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Donna Edwards (D-MD), Frederica Wilson (D-FL), Cedric Richmond (D-LA), Maxine Waters (D-CA), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) who have all signed on as original cosponsors.