The International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor voiced confidence Saturday that Ugandan rebel leader Joseph Kony will be arrested this year, praising the role of a viral online campaign.
Luis Moreno-Ocampo said the California-based Invisible Children lobby group, and its viral “Kony 2012,” a 30-minute video seen by more than 100 million people, had helped bring more pressure to capture Kony.
“Invisible Children will I think produce the arrest of Joseph Kony this year,” said Moreno-Ocampo, after meeting the makers of the video -- a sequel to which is set to be released next week -- in Los Angeles.
“That is the impact of the campaign. The Invisible Children movie is adding the social interest that the institutions need to achieve results,” he added. “We need this people attention to make the political leaders interested.”
Kony, originally from Uganda, is wanted by the Hague-based ICC for leading a grim campaign of rape, mutilation and murder, kidnapping boys to serve as child soldiers and girls as sex slaves.
The manhunt across Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic and South Sudan has been given new impetus by the Kony 2012 campaign. The United States sent 100 special forces to help last year.
The African Union said Friday it was boosting coordination between armies in the four countries to find Kony. Uganda is due to take the lead in running the 5,000-strong joint force.
Moreno-Ocampo said the fugitive head of the Lord’s Resistance Army fugitive is believed to be hunkered down somewhere in the Central African Republic, protected by a 300-strong rebel force.
And he stressed it was important that Kony be brought to justice rather than be killed in an attempt to capture him.
“With the support of the U.S., the planning will be different and the support including helicopters will be different,” said the ICC prosecutor, adding: “It’s not about killing soldiers, it’s about arresting Joseph Kony.”
“I don’t think U.S. troops will do it. Ugandan troops, supported by the U.S. working with the Central African Republic, they will do it,” he said.
“I hope he’s arrested... because putting him on trial will make a difference.”