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The ICC upholds 25-year jail time period for Ongwen – why it issues for Africa

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The Worldwide Felony Court docket (ICC) has upheld its 25-year jail time period towards former Ugandan insurgent commander Dominic Ongwen. In a choice delivered on 15 December, the ICC Appeals Chamber confirmed, by majority, the punishment imposed in Might final 12 months.

Ongwen was the primary Lord’s Resistance Army chief to be discovered responsible of the crimes throughout which 1000’s have been killed or displaced in Northern Uganda.

His commander and Lord’s Resistance Military founder, Joseph Kony remains to be at giant. The US is providing as much as US$5 million for info resulting in his seize.

One in all Kony’s techniques through the twenty years of insurgency was the abduction and conscription of youngsters into his military. Ongwen was aged about 9 years when he was kidnapped. Most of the former little one troopers surrendered to the Ugandan forces underneath an amnesty framework, and have been resettled again into their communities.

In 2005, the ICC Pre-Trial Chamber II issued warrants of arrest for Kony, Ongwen and three other senior leaders of the Lord’s Resistance Military for warfare crimes and crimes towards humanity dedicated in Northern Uganda.

On 6 Might 2021, the ICC sentenced him to 25 years’ imprisonment after discovering him responsible of 61 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity. He appealed towards the jail time period.

So why is the decision on Ongwen’s attraction vital to the African continent? There are 4 key causes. The choice of the ICC Appeals Chamber:

  • units priority on pressured marriages and compelled pregnancies,
  • advances worldwide jurisprudence,
  • tackles the query of kid troopers; and
  • underscores the function of ICC member states.

Why it issues

Priority on pressured marriages and compelled pregancies – The ICC Trial Chamber convicted Ongwen of sexual and gender-based violence crimes against seven women he held in custody. Not like the crimes of enslavement, rape and sexual slavery, the crime of pressured marriage is just not explicitly set out within the Rome Statute.

Recognising and deciphering pressured marriage as a separate crime towards humanity was a critical step in the direction of achieving justice for the victims of sexual and gender-based violence on the Hague-based courtroom.

The Trial Chamber indicated that:

The crime of pressured marriage relies on the illegal confinement of a (forcibly made) pregnant lady, with the impact that the lady is disadvantaged of reproductive autonomy.

This interpretation implies that judges will henceforth be conscious of the vulnerability of ladies throughout armed conflicts.

Ongwen’s was additionally the primary case the place the ICC handled the crime of pressured being pregnant. Equally vital to notice is the Trial Chamber’s emphasis of its expansive interpretation of the Rome Statute. It famous:

As with every crime, pressured being pregnant have to be interpreted in a way that provides this crime unbiased that means from the opposite sexual and gender-based violence crimes within the Statute.

The Appeals Chamber stresses the necessity to shield the lady’s reproductive well being, together with the appropriate to household planning.

The implication is that prosecution of sexual and gender-based violence inside armed battle and post-war contexts will almost definitely improve.

The sample of violating girls’s physique can’t be neglected, even past the context of armed battle. The explicit recognition of Ongwen victims’ experiences of hurt throughout the context of sexual and gender-based violence can tackle socio-cultural injustices towards girls in transitional contexts.

The ICC judgements within the Ongwen case are extremely related for feminist authorized students and proponents of gender-sensitive judging, considered as an vital precedent on reproductive autonomy and rights.

The ICC subsequently units a great precedent for analysing the precarious scenario of victims of sexual and gender-based violence. This can be useful in conflicts just like the Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia and South Sudan.

Felony Legal responsibility of former little one troopers – The choice on Ongwen gives an vital precedent relating to the difficulty of kid troopers. It permits courts in different African contexts to distinguish between between youngsters as victims (little one troopers) and as perpetrators of crimes. The conscription of youngsters into fight is still a challenge in contexts like the DRC.

On account of this ICC precedent, African courts can not absolve former little one troopers from felony legal responsibility for crimes dedicated after they rose to excessive command positions.

Assist by member states could be very essential – The investigation, give up and profitable prosecution of Ongwen price vital quantities of funds. It required assist from state and different actors. It reveals the dependence of the ICC on member states’ cooperation to fulfil its mandate.

The Ugandan authorities, as an example, referred the Lord’s Resistance Military crimes to the ICC. It additionally actively engaged in investigations and offering proof.

Going ahead, proponents of the worldwide justice in Africa might want to have interaction with ICC member states. They need to additionally search technical and monetary assist from donors and personal stakeholders.

Victims, consultants and lecturers made key contributions to this vital jurisprudence on sexual and gender-based violence within the Ongwen case.

For different African international locations coping with legacies of worldwide crimes and warfare crimes, availability of sufficient funds and technical experience can be essential.