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We believe that political advocacy is a critical part of ending violence and exploitation in isolated and vulnerable communities and addressing the injustices that allowed it to happen in the first place. That’s why we provide ongoing opportunities for people to engage their political leaders through letter-writing, phone calls, and in-person lobby meetings. Over the last decade, millions of Americans – and an increasing number of international advocates – raised their voices about the LRA crisis in central Africa and have called on their elected officials to play their part in enhancing the safety of affected communities.

Because of the dedicated work of these activists, we’ve seen our leaders take a number of significant actions to help end the LRA crisis and support the recovery of affected communities. Most notably, this includes the passage of two significant pieces of U.S. legislation — The LRA Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act (2010), and the Rewards for Justice Expansion legislation (2013).

Galvanizing Congressional support behind these bills wasn’t easy – we slept on the streets, wrote countless letters, and held hundreds of lobby meetings in Washington and around the country. As a result, the U.S. has invested significantly in pursuing the LRA’s leader, Joseph Kony, and in helping bring an end to his crimes against the people of central Africa. In the wake of these successes, it’s now essential that we keep our leaders committed to finishing what we’ve all started together.

Bill number one: LRA Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act

From June 2009 through March 2010, Invisible Children mobilized hundreds of thousands of young activists to rally Congressional support for the passage of the LRA Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act. With 267 bipartisan cosponsors, the bill was the most widely supported Africa-related piece of legislation on record in U.S. history at the time of its passage. Representatives from Invisible Children, as well as our advocacy partners The Resolve LRA Crisis Initiative and The Enough Project, were invited to attended the signing of the bill with President Obama in the Oval Office on May 24, 2010.

Once passed the Act required President Obama to develop the first-ever official U.S. strategy to address LRA violence and support affected communities, which he released in November 2010. That strategy was a catalyst of the President’s decision in October 2011 to deploy 100 U.S. advisers to central Africa to assist the African Union- led mission focused on dismantling the LRA, protecting civilians from attacks, and apprehending top LRA leadership.

Thanks in large part to the tireless work of of Invisible Children activists, President Obama repeatedly extended the U.S. advisor mission through the end of his term, in an effort to give them the time and support they need to success. During the mission, these advisors helped keep thousands of families safe from the violence of the LRA and other armed groups, and engaged in innovative defection messaging campaigns, which encouraged dozens of LRA fighters to lay down their weapons and come home.

Statistics

1085 local lobby meetings facilitated since 2008

267 bipartisan congressional cosponsers of the LRA Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act

3,729,815 signatures on Kony 2012 pledges

Bill number two: Rewards for Justice Expansion legislation

Invisible Children mobilized activists in support of the Rewards for Justice Expansion bill during our KONY 2012 campaign, which began in March of that year. We continued to work with activists on the bill for the whole of 2012. In addition to local lobby meetings, hundreds of supporters called their members of Congress and thousands wrote letters, which our ‘IC Citizen’ Team hand-delivered to Congressional offices. Our efforts culminated with the LOBBY:DC event on November 16th, 2012. More than 800 activists descended on Washington and participated in roughly 300 lobby meetings over the course of six hours. These activists called on their elected officials to support the passage of the Rewards for Justice expansion bill and to continue to support the efforts of the U.S. advisors in central Africa. Needless to say, Capitol Hill took notice, and the bill was passed on January 15, 2013.

The bill expanded the U.S. State Department’s existing War Crimes Rewards program, which allows the U.S. government to provide a monetary reward for information leading to the capture of wanted international criminals – meaning those wanted for war crimes, genocide, crimes against humanity in international criminal tribunals. The program has been in place since 1984 and offers financial rewards for information that leads to the capture of wanted terrorists and drug traffickers, as well as war criminals wanted by the international criminal tribunals. (In other words, it quite the motivational tool to track down a criminal). Thanks to the passage of the Rewards for Justice Expansion legislation, that list of criminals now includes Joseph Kony and two other top LRA commanders, and the State Department is authorized to offer a reward of up to $5 million to anyone who provides information that leads to their arrest.

** It’s important to note that this reward money is exclusively for information that leads to the arrest top LRA leaders. It is not a bounty and cannot be given as a reward to anyone that kills Kony or his fellow commanders. Additionally, the money cannot be given to government officials or forces who might facilitate Kony’s arrest

U.S. funding to help end LRA violence and support communities

In addition to the advocacy that Invisible Children has organized for the two laws mentioned above, our Citizen Team has also continued to work closely with our most committed activist across the country to ensure that Congress appropriate funds in the national budget to strengthen efforts to arrest Joseph Kony, end LRA violence, and support the recovery of affected communities in central Africa.

Since President Obama’s first released his comprehensive LRA strategy in November 2010, our sharp, determined, and passionate community of Citizen activists have helped turn that strategy into concrete, life-saving action by successfully convincing Congress to secure hundreds of millions of dollars in humanitarian assistance and support for counter-LRA efforts in central Africa.

These funds have enabled a spectrum of critical, life-saving efforts — from rehabilitation programs and early warning systems to help protect communities from LRA attacks, to intelligence-gathering equipment and mobility support to help regional forces track down and arrest top LRA leadership.

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