For over 25 years, Joseph Kony and his Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) have caused untold pain to children and families in Central Africa. The rebel group is responsible for a litany of human rights violations including abduction, rape, torture and murder all committed under direct orders from Kony, a demented messianic guerilla leader who uses abducted child soldiers to carry out his heinous crimes.
Thankfully, increased pressure in recent years has debilitated the group, drastically reduced its size and put it on the run. Kony is still out there, however, and he is still ordering his group to commit atrocities.
Despite the coordinated efforts of the United Nations, African Union and our own military advisors, Kony’s exact whereabouts remain a mystery. Some reports put him in the Central African Republic (CAR). Others have him in the war-torn Darfur region of Sudan. Wherever he is, you can bet that he won’t be staying long. Kony has evaded capture by remaining mobile and elusive.
We can increase the chances of pinpointing an exact location of Kony by passing a bill Senator John Kerry (D-MA) and I introduced that expands the State Department’s Rewards for Justice program to make it applicable to anyone who offers information that leads to the arrest or conviction of Joseph Kony.
Currently the Department of State’s Rewards for Justice program only grants the Secretary of State authority to provide financial rewards in exchange for information leading to the arrest and conviction of criminals wanted for terrorism, narcotics trafficking and anyone indicted in the three international criminal tribunals—Sierra Leone, the former Yugoslavia, and Rwanda. Our bill will expand the program to provide incentives for offering information for individuals wanted for war crimes, crimes against humanity, or genocide; giving us one more instrument to help track this elusive war criminal down. It was recently approved by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. I am confident it would easily clear the full Senate if brought forward for a vote.
The key to capturing Kony is not superior firepower. Nor is it more troops. What we have seen time and time again in these manhunts is human intelligence wins out. Somewhere, someone knows his whereabouts and will come forward with information that will lead to his capture.
The will to end Kony’s reign of terror is strong. Not just abroad, but here at home. Motivated by a successful viral video and an aggressive campus activism campaign, thousands of young Americans are speaking out for the victims of LRA violence and calling for the capture of Kony. This includes many young Arkansans, some of whom traveled to DC last month to visit with me about the ongoing efforts to capture this war criminal. It is hard not to be moved by their efforts to help people thousands of miles from home in a region most of them have never even visited. If they continue to speak out, our bill will pass and there will be one more tool at hand for those on the ground to utilize to bring Kony to justice.