The World’s Most-Wanted Fugitives

The International Criminal Court has issued arrest warrants for these infamous figures

by Beth Rowen
Joseph Kony

Joseph Kony, photo by Joram Jojo

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Many of the world’s most detested figures are accused of committing war crimes against their own people, against political opponents, and against innocent civilians who happen to live in an area of dispute.

In 1998 the UN General Assembly voted to authorize a treaty that established a permanent international court to try those accused of war crimes, genocide, crimes of aggression, and crimes against humanity. The International Criminal Court formally opened on July 1, 2002, at The Hague. The ICC can only prosecute crimes committed after its 2002 founding date.

The following suspects are at the top of the ICC’s most-wanted list for crimes against humanity.

Joseph Kony, Okot Odhiambo, Dominic Ongwen, Vincent Otti
The government of Uganda has been at war for nearly 20 years with Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). About 10,000 children have been abducted by the LRA to form the army of “prophet” Kony, whose aim is to take over Uganda and run it according to his vision of Christianity. The boys are turned into soldiers and the girls into sex slaves. Up to 1.5 million people in northern Uganda have been displaced because of the fighting and the fear that their children will be abducted. Kony and three other top LRA leaders, Okot Odhiambo, Dominic Ongwen, and Vincent Otti, have been indicted on charges of crimes against humanity by the ICC. There have been reports that Odhiambo was killed in early 2008 in fighting between members of the LRA over a peace deal. His death has not been confirmed, however.

Abd Al Rahman, Ahmad Harun, Omar al-Bashir, Bar Idriss Abu Garda, Ali Kushayb
In Feb. 2007, the ICC named Ahmad Harun, Sudan's deputy minister for humanitarian affairs, and Ali Kushayb, also known as Ali Abd-al-Rahman, a janjaweed leader, as suspects in the murder, rape, and displacement of thousands of civilians in the country’s Darfur region. In May 2007, the ICC issued an arrest warrant for Harun, charging him with mass murder, rape, and other crimes. The Sudanese government has refused to hand him over to the Court. Sudan arrested Kushayb in October 2008. More than 200,000 people have been killed and 2.5 million have become refugees since the conflict in Darfur began in early 2004, in which the janjaweed—the pro-government Arabic militias—has been slaughtering black villagers and rebel groups with impunity. Omar al-Bashir is the current president of Sudan and, as of March 4, 2009, is the first sitting head of state to be indicted by the ICC. His warrant is for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Bosco Ntaganda, Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui, Germain Katanga, Thomas Lubanga Dyilo
Democratic Republic of Congo
Bosco Ntaganda, Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui, Germain Katanga, Thomas Lubanga Dyilo Democratic Republic of Congo Ntaganda, the head of military operations for a militia called the National Congress for the Defense of the People (CNDP), oversaw seven camps in which children were trained as fighters to participate in Congo's complex four-year civil war. The war involved seven foreign armies and numerous rebel groups that often fought among themselves. More than 2.5 million people are estimated to have died in the war, which raged from 1999 to 2003. Known as the “Terminator,” Ntaganda also allegedly led the child soldiers in war. Mathieu Ngudjolo Chui was arrested in 2008 and charged with six counts of war crimes and three counts of crimes against humanity. His misdeeds include willful killing, inhumane treatment, using child soldiers, sexual slavery, and pillaging. Germain Katanga, former leader of the Patriotic Resistance Force in Ituri, charged with crimes against humanity and war crimes, specifically for a 2003 brutal attack on the village of Bogoro. Former rebel leader Thomas Lubanga Dyilo is standing trial for atrocities committed during the Ituri ethnic conflict.

Jean-Pierre Bemba
Central African Republic
The ICC issued an arrest warrant for Bemba in 2008 for foru counts of war crimes and two counts of crimes against humanity, including murder, rape, and torture. Bemba was the leader of the Movement for the Liberation of the Congo.

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