When the prey becomes the predator: Does justice equal a conviction? an analysis of the dominic ongwen case
Marereh, Jael Jennifer
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Dominic Ongwen is not only an indicted war criminal but a former child soldier in one of the most brutal rebel groups that has conscripted over 30, 000 children. He is the representation of children that have been bred in the shadows of illiberal war economies and a vulnerable group that have been excluded from polity or never been socialized within it. With the mental image of a child soldier that has been painted across the international community as a child with an AK- 47 in hand, does not settle well within the community. It is this mental image that does not allow for people to look beyond the actions committed or the horrors that these children have had to go through to be combatant ready. Fearless, loyal and obedient to all orders of their commanders. The objective of this dissertation is to analyse the process of recruitment and indoctrination that these children go through, the stance on criminal culpability for both child soldiers and commanders face under international criminal law and the mitigating factors surrounding the case of Ongwen due to the difficulty in establishing where his duality nature falls. This study shall heavily rely on doctrinal research due to the practicality surrounding the case and reliance on judicial interpretations of statutes and previously decided cases. It has been able to establish that due to the duality nature that Dominic Ongwen presents before the ICC, the issues that arise from the indoctrination, the lack of a properly set age at which intent sets in the mind of child and the aspects surrounding what justice would mean for both the victims that have fell prey to the hands of Ongwen and the horrors he has had to endure are well brought out. The Court must realise that this case is simply not a question of law but a question of fact that shall have to delve into the history surrounding the atrocities. They shall also have to separate the moral and legal obligations that they battle in avoidance of a ‘victor’s justice’ or an instance whereby Ongwen is a scapegoat and lastly look into other mechanisms of finding a just ending for both parties. This could be through restorative justice rather than the appreciated retributive system in a bid to set a trend in finding a new approach to ICL.