Child victim, soldier, war criminal: unpacking Dominic Ongwen’s journey

The story of Ongwen troubles stereotypes of the pathological war criminal – relentless men indifferent to human suffering or, more typically, who actively seek it out. This image is already a gross oversimplification that fails to account for the diverse backgrounds and motives of perpetrators of international crimes. His survival instinct and dutiful nature (mentioned by numerous interview subjects encompassing all stages of his life) contributed to his survival. But it also led to his eventual identification by the Prosecutor as someone who “played such an important role” in LRA atrocities.