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International Justice/ICC: Apr '08

Human Rights Watch says IWPR reporting has helped focus attention on LRA reinforcement
A leading international human rights organisation has commended an IWPR special report which revealed that the rebel Lord’s Resistance Army has been renewing military activity in the central African region.

The story, LRA Prepares for War, not Peace, described LRA abductions of civilians – many of them children – in the Democratic Republic of Congo, DRC, South Sudan and the Central African Republic, CAR, in an apparent bid to build up its military capacity, at a time when it is supposed to be preparing to disarm under a peace agreement.

As a result of the story, a number of international organisations took note, including the New York-based Human Rights Watch and experts from Amnesty International in London.

About two weeks after the story, HRW issued its own report on the situation, calling for strong measures to be taken to control rebel activity.

Elise Keppler, counsel with HRW’s International Justice Program, praised IWPR’s work on exposing the LRA reinforcement drive.

“IWPR's reporting on recent reports of LRA atrocities in the Central African Republic, Southern Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of Congo helped focus attention on this important issue,” Keppler told IWPR.

In addition, said Keppler, “IWPR's reporting on the Juba [peace] talks [between the LRA and Kampala] more generally has provided valuable information that has contributed to shaping our thinking on the negotiations.”

Elizabeth Evenson, also with HRW, said the IWPR story on the LRA provided more detail and depth that had previous been seen.

“There have been some newswire reports but..,in terms of comprehensive pieces, there has been nothing comparable to your article in the international press,” she said.

“There is still international action that can be taken to stop abuses by the LRA – as reported by you – and help execute arrest warrants against them. For all of us collectively, it is important that these actions be put on the radar screen of the international community so that they understand what work is required here, and that the story isn’t over in Uganda.

“It is essential that journalism play a role in communicating what is happening in The Hague, which can seem so remote for the people for whom the court has been established.”

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