Tuesday, October 7, 2008
On Friday. October 3, President Bush signed into law the Child Soldiers Accountability Act. The text of the Act may be viewed here: http://www.opencongress.org/bill/110-s2135/text. The purpose of the Act is, inter alia, "To prohibit the recruitment or use of child soldiers, to designate persons who recruit or use child soldiers as inadmissible aliens, [and] to allow the deportation of persons who recruit or use child soldiers." The Act subjects any person who knowingly recruits, enlists or conscripts a person under 15 years of age into an arrmed force or group or who knowingly uses a person under 15 years of age to participate actively in armed hostilities to fines and imprisonment. The Act applies to any offender who is a national or lawful permanent resident of the U.S. or who is present in the U.S. The Act also applies if any part of the offense occurs in the U.S. Offenders are inadmissible to the U.S. and, if already present in the U.S., are removable. According to a report on Children and Armed Conflict issued by U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon in December 2007, recruitment of child soldiers was verified in at least 16 States or Territories during 2007, including Burundi, Chad, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Somalia, Sudan, Uganda, Afghanistan, Central African Republic, Haiti, Iraq, Myanmar, Occupied Palestinian Territory, Columbia and Phillippines. The Secretary General's Report may be accessed here: http://daccessdds.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/N07/656/04/PDF/N0765604.pdf?OpenElement. The Child Soldiers Accountability Act will help implement international law prohibiting the use of child soliders. In particular, Article 77 of the 1977 Additional Protocols to the four Geneva Conventions commits States Parties to take all feasible measures to ensure that persons under the age of 15 do not take part in armed conflict and prohibits States from recruiting persons under the age of 15 for the armed forces. These same obligations are reflected in Article 38 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.