|Ambassador-at-Large for Global Criminal Justice, Stephen Rapp. Photo Credit: State Department|
This afternoon Ambassador-at-Large for Global Criminal Justice, Stephen Rapp, held a press conference to announce the expansion of the War Crimes Rewards Program (WCRP). Ambassador Rapp was accompanied by the Assistant Secretary for African Affairs Don Yamamoto. Ambassador Rapp shared the news that Secretary of State, John Kerry, has approved the offer of up to $5 million for information that leads to the arrest, transfer, and conviction of: the top three leaders of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA): Joseph Kony, Okot Odhiambo, and Dominic Ongwen, as well as Sylvestre Mudacumurand, the military commander of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), and the nine fugitives from the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) - Felicien Kabuga, Protais Mpiranya, Augustin Bizimana, Fulgence Kayishema, Pheneas Munyarugarama, Aloys Ndimbati, Ladislas Ntaganzwa, Charles Ryandikayo, and Charles Sikubwabo - who continue to elude justice.
The Rewards Program is managed by the Office for Global Criminal Justice (OGCJ). Previously the money in the Program was only approved for information regarding the tribunals in the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), Rwanda (ICTR), and Sierra Leone (SCSL). Fourteen payments were made in the past 2 years, bringing all of the 161 people sought in Yugoslavia to justice and all but nine of the 92 sought in Rwanda. As these tribunals draw to a close, the OGCJ, with the help of Rep. Royce (R-CA) and Secretary Kerry, advocated expanding and modernizing the Program so it wouldn’t become obsolete. In January 2013 President Obama signed into law the Department of State Rewards Program Update and Technical Corrections Act of 2012, S. 2318. This law allows the Secretary of State, after inter agency discussion and informing Congress, to provide monetary compensation for any information that leads to the arrest, transfer, and conviction of any foreign national accused by any foreign tribunal of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide.
Ambassador Rapp reiterated word’s from Secretary Kerry’s blog post in the Huffington Post today about how “impunity is the enemy of peace. Accountability is essential to preventing atrocities from taking place in the future.” He also mentioned the positive stabilizing force the expansion of the Rewards Program would have on both American, and global, security. This expansion directly supports the work of the International Criminal Court, which Ambassador Rapp praised during his remarks. The Court was noted for its assistance in the fight to end impunity and bring the worst criminals to justice, including many on the War Crimes Rewards Program list such as Joseph Kony.