There has been a flurry of reports since the Lord’s Resistence Army commander Dominic Ongwen surrendered to stand trial for war crimes during his time with the the LRA. This story suggests that Ongwen surrendered at least in part, to avoid being killed while still at large in the bush.

More background on the personal history of Ongwen is given in this piece at the New York Times:


[quote]Mr. Ongwen was abducted himself when he was 10, while walking to school. Ugandan officials said that he had been trained to club people to death and that he had gone on to plan brutal massacres. Some legal analysts expect his abduction to become a central part of his defense, if indeed he is put on trial at the International Criminal Court.”[/quote]


The information about Ongwen himself being abducted at an early age, leads to questions about what is the right and just method of punishment, or as some groups close to the situation suggest, whether even amnesty might be in order for Dominic Ongwen. Cited in the same article, is one of our longtime partners and consultants in our project work in child soldier reintegration – retired Bishop Baker Ochola. The Bishop is quoted from the piece:


[quote]It’s wrong and a bad thing to take him to ICC (International Criminal Court). The government of Uganda has no moral authority to support it … The government should not jeopardise the lives of children and women still in LRA captivity. We appeal to the government to forgive and set him free. He should be given amnesty as any rebel who surrenders, renounces and abandons rebellion.”[/quote]

– Bishop Ochola, Goldin Institute Partner


But the Bishop stands clear on the ethical point of who it is that should be brought to justice:

Kony who started the war should be the one tried. Not children who were abducted and forced to commit crimes against their will.

The timing of our announcement of our new Global Associate, Denis Okello and his current work with Bishop Ochola and the ARLPI will make it expedient for us to get on-the-ground updates from Uganda on how this story is impacting their ongoing work on the issue of child soldier reintegration and mending the communities that have seen the worst of the LRA’s grip on their villages and towns. 

We look forward to there being good news to report as the story unfolds. 

Dominic Ongwen (blue shirt) after surrender earlier in January.<br>Photo Credits: Courtesy of Uganda People's Defence Force