The Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) was formed by Joseph Kony in northern Uganda in 1987 as a religiously-inspired militia group. Since its founding, the group has been responsible for widespread and systematic abuses of human rights across central Africa, including in Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Central African Republic (CAR) and South Sudan, that may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity.
According the United Nations, the LRA was responsible for more than 100,000 deaths, the abduction of between 60,000 to 100,000 children, and the displacement of as many as 2.5 million civilians between 1987 and 2012. The group frequently forced children to kill or maim their own families, while abducted women and girls often become the wives of LRA leaders, suffering repeated rapes and sexual assaults.
Despite a significant reduction in the number of LRA fighters since 2012, the group remains a threat to populations in Central Africa. The LRA has exploited insufficient national and international presence in remote areas of eastern CAR and northeastern DRC to illicitly traffic natural resources to sustain its operations. According to the LRA Crisis Tracker, the group was responsible for 222 abductions and 9 civilian fatalities in CAR and the DRC during 2019.
The International Criminal Court issued arrest warrants for Joseph Kony and four other members of the LRA. While two of the warrants were terminated following the death of the named individuals, Kony and Vincent Otti remain at large. An alleged Brigade Commander within the LRA, Dominic Ongwen, was captured and handed over to the court during January 2015. Ongwen, who was himself abducted as a child, is being tried by the ICC on 70 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity, including attacks against a civilian population, murder, rape, sexual slavery, forced marriage, torture, and conscription and use of children under the age of 15 to participate actively in hostilities.