Saturday, 10 November 2007
Child soldiers at Guantanamo
Prof. David Crane, the first prosecutor at the Special Court for Sierra Leone (and a regular visitor to the Irish Centre for Human Rights), has published a fine article on child soldiers in today's International Herald Tribune: http://www.iht.com/articles/2007/11/09/opinion/edcrane.php. David makes the link between the phenomenon of child soldiers, his own rich experience in Sierra Leone, and the pending trial of Omar Khadr at Guantanamo. Omar Khadr is a Canadian citizen and has been detained at Guantanamo for five years. He was captured at the age of 15 in Afghanistan. He is represented by a very determined and competent US military lawyer, whom I had the pleasure to meet last month at the annual meeting of the Canadian Council of International Law, in Ottawa. Unfortunately, the Canadian government, which has taken a rather conservative turn, is not doing all it could to help Omar Khadr. The British and Australians, for example, have insisted on their own nationals at Guantanamo being repatriated. Fortunately, authoritative voices like that of David Crane are arguing that the trial should no be taking place, and that a 15-year-old combatant should be treated as a victim, not a perpetrator.