Home | News    Tuesday 15 May 2012

Ugandan army claims capture of LRA commander

May 14, 2012 (BOR) - The Ugandan army on Saturday 10 May claimed that they had captured one of the top ranking officials in the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), a rebel group that that is infamous for the killing and abduction of women and children in Uganda, South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Central Africa Republic.

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Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) commander Caesar Achellam (C) alights an army helicopter on arrival at the army operation base in Nera in South Sudan May 13, 2012 (Reuters)

The UN said in a press release on Monday 14 May, Caesar Acellam Otto was captured by the Ugandan army in Central Africa Republic (CAR), although the date in which he was caught is remained unclear.

The Acellam was caught with his wife and child as well as a 12-year-old-girl who is a citizen of Central Africa Republic. It is not known what role the lady played in Acellam’s family during their hiding in the bush from the African Union joint force that had been pursuing the group.

Western Equatoria has been the South Sudanese state most seriously affected by the LRA conflict with villages along the border with DRC and CAR devastated by the LRA’s activities.

The LRA is estimated to have abducted between 60,000-100,000 people in it’s 25 year insurgency. The abductees, normally children, are often forced to fight or become sex slaves.

However, the LRA is now only estimated to have a few hundred fighters left and is spread over a vast area of Central Africa.

Early this year, US government sent the team of 100 military adviser to help in hunting the commander of LRA, Joseph Kony.

Kony became the focus on of online advocacy campaigns earlier this year, which drew some praise for raising the profile of the conflict but also received criticism for simplifying the conflict and endorsing a military solution.

The leadership of the LRA is wanted by the Hague-based International Criminal Court for crimes against humanities and other related charges. The court has no police force so relies on member countries to cooperate and handover inductees.

UN Special Representative of the Secretary General, for Children and Armed Conflict, Radhika Coomaraswamy, said she was "encouraged by the capture of one of the worst perpetrators of child rights violations."

She expressed "hope that the Ugandan authorities would not apply amnesty but instead, bring him to justice."

“The arrest and subsequent prosecution of Acellam would send a strong message to the LRA leadership that they will be held accountable for their actions,” SRSG Coomaraswamy said.

“I urge troops conducting operations against the LRA to ensure that civilians are protected at all times,” SRSG Coomaraswamy said, encouraging "the Ugandan army to hand over the children separated from the LRA to civilian child protection actors in line with their internal procedures and international standards.”

The wife and children, she said, should also receive proper reintegration assistance including medical treatment, psychosocial support as well as education and skills training to facilitate their return to civilian life.

(ST)