U.S. Ambassador for Global Criminal Justice, Stephen Rapp, announced the expansion of the State Department’s War Crimes Rewards program at 9:30pm PST today. Under this program — which is part of the broader Rewards for Justice program — the State Department is authorized to offer awards of up to $5 million for information leading to the arrest or conviction of specific international criminals accused of crimes against humanity, genocide, or war crimes, by international tribunals.
The expansion of the War Crimes Rewards program, which will now include Joseph Kony and other top LRA commanders indicted by the International Criminal Court, is the result of legislation that Congress passed and President Obama signed into law in January of this year. Invisible Children activists were very involved in lobbying for the passage of this legislation through local lobby meetings, phone calls, letters, and a lobby day in Washington, DC last November. As a result, Invisible Children’s CEO Ben Keesey was invited to join President Obama for the signing of the bill at the Oval Office on January 15, 2013.
Incidentally, the bill was originally introduced in April 2012 by then Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, John Kerry, who specifically hoped that an expanded War Crimes Rewards program would help put Joseph Kony behind bars. Mr. Kerry now serves as Secretary of State and we’ve been urging him to stand by his commitment to help bring Kony to justice by ensuring that the U.S. continues its efforts.