First LRA suspect in ICC custody
Dominic Ongwen became the first Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) suspect to be transferred into ICC custody following his January 2015 surrender to United States troops in the Central African Republic. A decade having already passed since the arrest warrants were issued against five LRA commanders, ICC judges separated Ongwen’s case from that against LRA leader Joseph Kony and the other LRA suspects.
Victim, perpetrator, or both?
Ongwen is the first former child abductee to face charges before the ICC. The LRA is alleged to have abducted some 30,000 children to take into its ranks. After being forced to undergo military training, the abductees were often forced to kill adults or other children who transgressed the LRA’s strict rules or who tried to escape.
While the ICC does not have jurisdiction over crimes committed by individuals under 18, some observers consider abduction as potential grounds to mitigate a sentence in the event of conviction for crimes later committed as an adult or even as a possible legal defense during trial.