Thursday, February 07, 2008

United States Contravenes International Law by trying a " Child-Soldier ", Omar Khadr

Photo: Omar Khadr : Child-Soldier to be tried by US Court in contravention of International Law

Another Embarrassing Moment for The Bush Regime or do most Americans believe that International Laws should not apply to the United States.

Anyway so I divided up the last rather lengthy post.

And for another piece of making up laws as you go along there is the case of the Canadian Omar Khadr . Khadr 's guilt is questionable . First he was only 15 at the time of his arrest and according to international law is therefore a child-soldier and thus is a victim of Al Qaeda rather than a willing participant. The judge in the case claims under US law a combatant or detainee is defined as a" person " which means - now get this - anyone " born alive " so under US Law a two year old could be detained and tried and executed as an enemy combatant.

Secondly doubts have been raised about Khadr actual guilt in the case . One American eyewitness casts doubt on whether Khadr threw the grenade in question.

Thirdly if this was part of a fire-fight how is it Khad was shot twice in the back .
Having being seriously wounded and then captured isn't that enough punishment for a " Child-Soldier ".

February 5, 2008 by Reuters
US Says No One Too Young for Guantanamo Court,by Jane Sutton

Guantanamo Bay Naval Station, Cuba - A Canadian accused of killing a U.S. soldier in Afghanistan should not be tried as a war criminal because he was a child soldier for al Qaeda, too young to voluntarily join its forces, his military defense lawyer told a U.S. war court on Monday.0205 08

Navy Lt. William Kuebler asked a military judge to throw out the charges against Canadian defendant Omar Khadr, who was shot and captured at age 15 in a firefight at a suspected al Qaeda compound in Afghanistan in 2002.

“He is a victim of al Qaeda, not a member of al Qaeda,” Kuebler said.

Khadr is the Toronto-born son of an alleged al Qaeda financier. He is accused of throwing a grenade that killed U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Speer in the firefight and planting roadside bombs intended to kill other U.S. or coalition soldiers in Afghanistan.

Defence seeks dismissal on grounds Khadr was child soldier;Tribunal has no jurisdiction on minors, trial would violate UN conventions

Sheldon Alberts, Washington Correspondent, Canwest News Service: January 17, 2008

Lawyers for Canadian terror suspect Omar Khadr are asking a U.S. military judge to dismiss war crimes charges against their client on the grounds he was a child soldier whose prosecution breaks international law.

In a motion to be filed today with Col. Peter Brownback, Khadr's military defence lawyers contend the Bush administration's war crimes tribunals have no jurisdiction to try juveniles. They also argue any trial would violate United Nations conventions protecting children in armed conflict.

"If jurisdiction is exercised over Mr. Khadr, the military judge will be the first in western history to preside over the trial of alleged war crimes committed by a child," says the motion to dismiss, obtained by Canwest News Service.

"No international criminal tribunal established under the laws of war, from Nuremberg forward, has ever prosecuted former child soldiers as war criminals."

and see:
U.S. bans child-soldier expert from Khadr hearing ,Now harder for PM to defend position,Steven Edwards, Canwest News Service
January 24, 2008

UNITED NATIONS -- The Pentagon has refused to have a child-soldier expert from the United Nations attend an upcoming hearing for Canadian Omar Khadr.

The hearing, which will focus on arguments that international law on child soldiers proscribes Khadr's prosecution as a war criminal, will be held at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.

The ruling coincides with a French government call for Washington to drop charges against the Canadian terror suspect, who was 15 when U.S. forces seized him on an Afghan battlefield in July 2002.

The ban could lead to new pressure on Prime Minister Stephen Harper to speak out against the proceedings.

"It's difficult to see how Prime Minister Harper can defend the military commission as an 'appropriate judicial process' when the U.S. refuses to let the leading international experts watch," said Lt.-Cmdr. Bill Kuebler, Khadr's lead military defence lawyer.

Radhika Coomaraswamy, the UN special representative for children in armed conflict, raised concerns about Khadr's case when she met in November with State Department officials.

At the hearing, Khadr's lawyers will ask the military judge to dismiss war crimes and other charges on the grounds that child soldiers are guaranteed "special protection" under a UN protocol ratified by the U.S. in 2002.

see for instance :
Human Rights Watch Chidren's Rights: Stop the Use of Child Soldiers;International Legal Standards Governing Child Soldiers

update: 2:10 pm ,
And for more on Child-soldiers see the Red Cross website :

International Committee of the Red Cross:Position of the International Committee of the Red Cross Geneva, 27 October 1997

International humanitarian law asserts that children's rights must be respected during armed conflict but children are often torn from their families, pressed into serving as soldiers, held in captivity or simply killed. The ICRC tries to ensure children in war have adequate access to medical care, food and water, and, when possible, reunites them with their families. It also campaigns against the recruitment of child soldiers and reminds all parties to conflict of their obligations towards children.

and from the Optional Protocol to the Conventions on the rights of the Child in Armed Conflicts (b) sect. 8

...Apart from international humanitarian law, Article 1 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, whose wording is repeated in the preamble to the draft optional protocol, stipulates: “For the purposes of the present Convention, a child means every human being below the age of eighteen years unless, under the law applicable to the child, majority is attained earlier”. The only restriction placed on this principle in the Convention comes in Article 38 on recruitment and participation in hostilities. This restriction seems paradoxical, since recruitment and participation in hostilities entail grave risks for children.

Though we should not forget that according to the Bush administration and the Neoconservatives and their Radical Religious Right friends & their cronies are anti-UN and anti-International Law . Therefore , they believe that the Red Cross and all other International Organizations are just " liberal" controlled institutions which are out to undermine US sovereignty . Yes my friends Bush and the gang are real nutters.

and so it goes ,

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