Monday, February 20, 2012

US Rep. Royce (R-Calif.) Introduces Legislation in Congress to Reward Capture of ICC Suspect Kony

A newly proposed "Department of State Rewards Program Update and Technical Corrections Act of 2012," could, if passed, reward actionable intelligence that leads to the arrest of Joseph Kony, alleged Commander-in-Chief of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) in Uganda. He is wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The legislation, introduced on 17 February 2012 by Rep. Edward Royce (R-Calif. 40th District) updates the US State Department's Rewards Program to include transnational organized crime. The 1984 Program currently only rewards information regarding terrorists, narcotics traffickers and specific international war criminals. Under the updated legislation, the Program could target those indicted by international, hybrid, or mixed tribunals for genocide, war crimes, or crimes against humanity.

Rep. Royce, who chairs the Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade, was one of the original sponsors of the 2010 Lord's Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act. The law sought to "bring an end to the brutality and destruction that have been a hallmark of the LRA across several countries for two decades." In October 2011, President Obama deployed US troops to Uganda, South Sudan, Central African Republic, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo aid regional forces in combating the LRA.

The ICC issued a warrant of arrest under seal for Joseph Kony on 8 July 2005. Kony is charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity including rape, sexual enslavement, and forced conscription of children. Rep. Royce said that the legislation would be another tool to target the world's worst.

The text of the legislation, H.R. 4077, is intended to amend Title 22 of the US Code, section 2708 (b), to permit the Secretary of State "to pay a reward to any individual who furnishes information leading to - (10) the arrest or conviction in any country, or the transfer to or conviction by an international criminal tribunal (including a hybrid or mixed tribunal), of any foreign national accused of war crimes, crimes against humanity, or genocide, as defined under the statute of such tribunal." In effect, the US could provide a cash reward to an individual who provides information that leads to the prosecution of an individual to be tried at the ICC.

A rule of construction set out in the proposed legislation seeks to address a possible conflict with anti-ICC legislation that is still on the books: "Nothing in this Act shall be construed as authorizing the use of activity precluded under the American Servicemembers' Protection Act of 2002 (Public Law 107-206)." ASPA, as it is known, prohibits US cooperation on specific ICC cases, subject to waiver under the Dodd Amendment, and states that "no funds appropriated under any provision of law may be used for the purpose of assisting the investigation, arrest, detention, extradition, or prosecution of any United States citizen or permanent resident alien by the International Criminal Court." Since the Royce legislation is limited to rewarding individuals for providing information leading to the transfer of conviction of a foreign national, no such conflict is likely.

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