Dominic Ongwen and the rotten social background defense : the criminal culpability of child soldiers turned war criminals
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American university international law review, Vol. 33, no. 3, 2018, 605-635
Raphael Lorenzo Aguiling Pangalangan
This paper seeks to confront the difficult question of holding the child soldier, who climbed the ranks, accountable, through the challenges embodied in Prosecutor v. Ongwen. A former child soldier himself, Ongwen is charged with the same crimes of which he was victim. Part I will be devoted to establishing the premise of the study. The paper will look at the factual milieu in which Ongwen is based. Part II will delve into possible grounds for excluding criminal responsibility for the child soldier turned alleged war criminal. Distinct from Ongwen’s Defense Counsel’s approach, Part II will advance Ongwen’s “rotten social background” not as a form of duress, but as a mental defect. Part III will conclude with a caveat addressing the doctrinal repercussions posed in ruling for or against the former child soldier who has come of age.