The conviction of Dominic Ongwen, a former commander within the Ugandan insurgent group the Lord’s Resistance Military (LRA), on the Worldwide Prison Courtroom (ICC) for an array of crimes towards humanity has raised essential questions on guilt and victimhood amongst former little one troopers. Ongwen was discovered responsible on February 4 of 61 of the 70 prices laid towards him, together with the ICC’s first-ever profitable prosecution for “pressured being pregnant”.
Fees towards him associated to assaults on civilian populations in 4 camps for internally displaced folks in northern Uganda between 2002 and 2005 in the course of the vicious two-decade battle between the LRA and the Ugandan military. Moreover pressured being pregnant, different prices included homicide and sexual and gender-based crimes, together with rape, sexual slavery and compelled marriage. He was additionally convicted for conscripting youngsters underneath the age of 15 into the LRA.
Ongwen’s expertise as a former little one soldier, having been forcibly kidnapped on his option to college on the age of ten by the LRA underneath the supreme command of Joseph Kony was a central theme in his defence.
However whereas the courtroom was aware of the psychological trauma suffered by little one troopers, Ongwen’s expertise as a toddler was not an element within the resolution. In her opening assertion when the trial started in 2016, ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda mentioned:
The proof of lots of the little one victims on this case could possibly be, in different circumstances, the story of the accused himself … However having suffered victimisation prior to now is just not a justification, nor an excuse to victimise others.
Ongwen’s personal abduction and the brutality and coercion he undoubtedly suffered by the hands of the LRA as a toddler could also be thought-about as mitigating circumstances in the course of the sentencing part of the trial, anticipated to happen in March or April 2021.
Gender crimes in battle
There’s a growing physique of case regulation on the ICC regarding crimes of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV). The Statute of Rome defines SGBV as these crimes dedicated towards individuals – whether or not male or feminine – due to their intercourse or socially constructed gender roles. These aren’t essentially manifested as sexual violence, however can embrace rape, sexual slavery, enforced prostitution, pressured being pregnant and enforced sterilisation.
In keeping with the ICC, the Rome Statute is “the primary worldwide treaty to determine conflict-related SGBV as crimes towards humanity, battle crimes and, in some situations, genocide. These groundbreaking provisions have offered a brand new language to explain and prosecute these heinous crimes.”
The primary ICC trial of a militia chief for SGBV crimes was that of Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo, who was discovered responsible in 2016 of 5 counts of homicide, rape and pillaging, amounting to battle crimes and crimes towards humanity.
He was additionally discovered responsible of failing to cease troops underneath his command of committing related crimes, additionally the primary time that the idea of command accountability was utilized by the ICC. The distinctive aspect in Bemba’s case was the popularity by the ICC of rape as a weapon of battle.
In 2019, Congolese warlord Bosco Ntaganda was sentenced to 30 years in jail after being convicted of 18 counts of homicide, rape, sexual slavery and utilizing little one troopers. Ntaganda’s case expanded the class of victims of sexual slavery to incorporate little one troopers.
However Ongwen’s trial was the primary time the courtroom thought-about the offences of pressured being pregnant and marriage particularly as battle crimes. Massive numbers of girls and women have been kidnapped to function “bush wives” of senior members of Ongwen’s Sinia Brigade. The courtroom acknowledged the complicated bodily and psychological results of such enforced sexual servitude on each the victims and their youngsters.
Taking care of victims
Ongwen’s attorneys plan to enchantment the choice on all the costs. But when the decision is upheld at enchantment, victims might obtain compensation from the ICC’s Belief Fund for Victims. These might embrace each particular person compensation and collective reparations awards within the form of rehabilitation in addition to academic and housing help.
As one research performed in northern Uganda reveals, reparations are doubly essential due to the stigmatisation confronted by the victims of sexual crimes which might have an effect on their prospects of employment or marriage in later life.
Additionally it is essential that the Ugandan authorities, as a matter of urgency, investigates allegations of comparable battle crimes dedicated by authorities troops. As early as 2005, Human Rights Watch established that troopers in Uganda’s nationwide military had raped, overwhelmed, arbitrarily detained and killed civilians in camps. To date, none have been delivered to justice.
The authors don’t work for, seek the advice of, personal shares in or obtain funding from any firm or organisation that may profit from this text, and have disclosed no related affiliations past their educational appointment.