Spellbound at the International Criminal Court: The Intersection of Spiritualism & International Criminal Law
This is a draft chapter. The final version will be available in "Intersections of Law and Culture at the International Criminal Court" edited by Julie Fraser and Brianne McGonigle Leyh, Edward Elgar Publishing Ltd., 2020
15 Pages Posted: 3 Aug 2020 Last revised: 29 Jun 2021
Date Written: July 1, 2020
The trial of Dominic Ongwen, former child soldier and commander of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), began at the ICC on 6 December 2016. From the outset of the proceedings, the Judges have had to assess evidence pertaining not only to the crimes and their context, but also to spiritual powers guiding the LRA and its fighters brought by the defence to argue affirmative defences of duress and mental incapacity. Addressing such culturally charged evidence, intrinsically linked to local norms and customs, through lenses of international criminal law raises a number of challenges. This chapter maps how a cultural understanding of spiritualism has played out in the unfolding trial of Dominic Ongwen. The authors engage in a qualitative transcript analysis exploring how submissions on spiritualism are being addressed by the trial parties and their (expert) witnesses, and to what effect.
Keywords: International Criminal Court, International Criminal Law, Criminology, Legal Culture, Dominic Ongwen, Spiritualism, Uganda, Joseph Kony, Lord's Resistance Army
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