A Former Child Soldier in the Hague, as an Accused

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African Yearbok of International Humanitarian Law

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The International Criminal Court (ICC) came into being in 2002. Its purpose is to prosecute persons who bear the greatest responsibility for the most serious crimes of concern to humankind. The ICC channels the outrage of the international community. Its point is retributive justice and, also, deterrence; among its aspirational goals is to end impunity. Redressing violence against children has been given pride of place amid the ICC’s work. Children have been encouraged to come forward to testify as witnesses about the harms they suffer and to pursue reparations. So, too, have adults with regard to the harms they had endured as children. Now, however, a new permutation arises. The ICC – in all its solemnity – is prosecuting Dominic Ongwen, a former child soldier from northern Uganda’s Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). To have a former child soldier in the dock is a first for the ICC.