Proportionality and Moral Blameworthiness in Ongwen 's icc Sentencing Decision

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The icc's legal framework combines continental and common law features. The sentencing regime provides for a separate hearing process unknown to the continentals. The principle of proportionality governs sentencing determination. Proportionality is met by analysing gravity and moral blameworthiness. In Ongwen, the icc should address his moral blameworthiness by considering his unique dual status as a former abducted child soldier and perpetrator, the expert evidence regarding the lra and the Acholi culture and history. The Court sentenced Ongwen in a rather formal traditional continental way. However, conviction is not the icc's ultimatum, and sentencing should not be a pure side effect of conviction. When the icc tries cases of non-western peoples, it is essential to express its understanding and respect for diversity. By addressing cultural, social, and historical aspects of the case and the offender as part of the sentencing reasoning, the icc performs the balancing process needed for proportionality.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Criminal Law Review
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2023


  • child soldier
  • gravity
  • moral blameworthiness
  • Ongwen
  • sentencing proportionality
  • social context
  • victim-perpetrator


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