Should countries prosecute child soldiers

Charlie - posted on 08/26/2010 ( 4 moms have responded )

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Child Soldiers are used throughout the world in both conflicts between states and civil wars. International law prohibits the use and recruitment of child soldiers, defining a child as anyone under the age of 15. International law also dictates that any child between the age of 15 and 18 should not participate directly in hostilities. The law can be found in Additional Protocols I and II to the Geneva Convention of 1977, the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child 1989 and the Optional Protocol to the Convention of the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict 2000. In spite of this, recent times have seen child soldiers being used in conflicts in Sierra Leone, Sri Lanka, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Northern Uganda. It is estimated that there are over 300,000 child soldiers currently fighting in the world.

High-profile child soldiers include Ishmael Beah, who fought in Sierra Leone; Emmanuel Jal who fought in Sudan and Omar Khadr who was taken to Guantanamo Bay at the age of 15 for allegedly killing an American soldier in Afghanistan.

This debate is about whether children who fight should be held responsible for the actions they have committed while fighting. These crimes are likely to be either war crimes or crimes against humanity which are prohibited by international law as the laws of war permit acts such as killing if they are committed in the course of an armed conflict. In this debate, the proposition has some discretion about how they define a child soldier: it could be any child under the age of 18, or an earlier age, e.g. 15. Child soldiers have been prosecuted in Rwanda from the age of 14 but there is a general trend against prosecuting child soldiers. The International Criminal Court, for example, has no jurisdiction over anyone under the age of 18.

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No, they are brainwashed into being soldiers and killing for their country. It's not their fault, prosecuting them will not solve the problem.

Caitlin - posted on 08/26/2010

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I think that it really depends on the scenario. A child that comes from Rwanda or places around there, where it is normal to be forced into it at a young age for whatever reason (mostly to protect their families) then no, those kids can't make a decision for themselves. If their family is being threatened and it's either pick up a gun or watch you sisters and mother being beaten and raped and possibly killed? Doesn't matter how old you are in that case in my mind.

Omar Khadr.. don't get me started. He grew up in canada, educated in Canada, he knew full well what he was doing was wrong, nobody in his family was threatened, he did it because he WANTED to, and he's no child soldier in my mind, he's a traitor to his country who deserves to be hung for his crimes, not kept alive in a cushy detention center.. JMHO

Tara - posted on 08/26/2010

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Child soldiers no, after 14 yes. I feel that a 14 year old being "forced" to fight for his country is no different than a grown man being "forced" to fight. In most cases both are equal in their ability to try to escape, flee, hide etc. whereas a child under that age does not have the resources, physical ability or emotional strength to do those things and is much more easily corrupted and twisted by their fate.
This is a touchy subject because I know I would feel different if it were my 14 year old being charged with war crimes.
I also would think that it would have to depend largely on whether or not they volunteered. A 14 year old held at gun point having just watched his mother and sister be raped, his brother killed and is now being forced to fight is totally different than a 14 year old who looks for and joins a militant group.

Jessica - posted on 08/26/2010

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Definately not, they are fighting because they are forced to. It is not fair to prosecute someone for something that was out of their control. They either fight or be killed. That is not fair grounds to prosecute a CHILD on.

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