All alone in the world : who stands up for the rights of child soldiers?

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Scholten, Chantal
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An estimated 300,000 children participate in hostilities around the globe at any given time. Despite a large volume of international instruments being in existence which prohibit the recruitment and use to participate (actively) of children in hostilities, there is no universal prohibition for all children below the age of eighteen years. Currently those responsible for conscripting or enlisting children below the age of fifteen are held criminally responsible before international tribunals. However, child soldiers may face prosecution before national and international tribunals as well. Although the ICC and the Special Court have excluded jurisdiction over children who were below the ages of eighteen and fifteen respectively at the time of the alleged commission of the crime, this does not prevent future tribunals from being set up with jurisdiction to prosecute children. This demand will even increase where societies wish to hold accountable all those who have committed egregious crimes, regardless of age. In addition, national courts may prosecute under their domestic law. There is no universal minimum age of criminal responsibility. Hence, a diverse practice is in existence. Child soldiers may be able to successfully raise defences such as, for instance, duress and intoxication before courts when charged with crimes.
Second semester University: National University of Ireland, Galway.
child soldiers, criminal liability, international criminal law, juvenile justice