Sentencing former Child Soldiers: Dominique Ongwen’s sentencing by the International Criminal Court

Dominique Ongwen was convicted by the International Criminal Court (2021) of a total of 61 crimes against humanity and war crimes.

The Court considered Ongwen’s “personal history” and called his life “misfortune at a young age”.

Ongwen was around 9 years old when he was kidnapped. He grew up in the bush in a criminal environment with Zosepf Kony and the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA).

He became a senior military officer within the LRA. The issue here is not whether the Court sentenced Ongwen correctly to 25 years or not.

The discussion is related to the evidence tools and method the Court used to understand and evaluate the “child soldier” situation.

The sentencing decision does not explain clearly how Ongwen’s child soldier experience was transformed into a voluntary informed choice to be in the LRA.

It is important to look into these questions to understand Ongwen’s moral blameworthiness for sentencing purposes.

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