Child Soldiers Should Be Prosecuted

Should countries prosecute child soldiers for the crimes they committed during wartime? Should there be an international minimum age of criminal responsibility for war crimes and crimes against humanity?

Child Soldiers Should Be Prosecuted
Yes because...

Child soldiers are no different from child criminals. Child soldiers have been responsible for some...

Child soldiers are no different from child criminals. Child soldiers have been responsible for some of the most brutal and violent acts in wartime. In Sierra Leone child soldiers committed acts of rape, mutilation and mass killings of civilians. Under most domestic laws the age of criminal responsibility is much lower than 18, in the USA criminal responsibility can be as low as age 8. If a child can be convicted for murder under national law they should also be held responsible for international crimes. There should be no exception simply because the crimes occurred in wartime.
No because...
Child soldiers are not morally responsible for their actions. Children are often forced into fighting and have little choice over whether or not they enlist. After that, they are following orders of adults rather than acting of their own free will. The recruiters of child soldiers also use drugs and alcohol to make children more compliant and to enable them to commit acts they would not ordinarily commit. Child soldiers should therefore not be held responsible for actions they were forced to commit and had little understanding of.

Child Soldiers Should Be Prosecuted
Yes because...

Many children volunteer to become soldiers in wartime out of patriotism or a desire to avenge the de...

Many children volunteer to become soldiers in wartime out of patriotism or a desire to avenge the death of their families. Being a soldier is also a way of earning money. If a child has volunteered to be a soldier then they should be held accountable for the acts they committed in this role. It is wrong to say that all child soldiers are forced into fighting or that they had no control over their actions. Many children occupy command positions in their armed group/military and are responsible for planning or ordering the commission of war crimes and human rights abuses. These children knew exactly what they were doing and should not be excused from their actions simply because they are thought to be too young to take responsibility.
No because...
Most children are forcibly recruited and even when they enlist they may not have thought carefully about their decision or made an informed choice. It may be that the child thought it would be safer to enlist or factors such as poverty and hunger influenced their decision rather than a desire to fight. Once children are recruited into the military it is also difficult for them to leave because they become dependent on their commanders for drugs, alcohol, money and food. Even if it looks like a child has volunteered this may not be the case. Child soldiers rarely have the same understanding of their decisions and actions as adults and therefore should not be held responsible for their actions.

Child Soldiers Should Be Prosecuted
Yes because...

Prosecutions for war crimes and crimes against humanity take place in the specific context of a post...

Prosecutions for war crimes and crimes against humanity take place in the specific context of a post-conflict society. It is important that child soldiers are included in post-war justice, so that the whole community can see that the perpetrators of human rights violations are punished. The finality of a trial also helps to draw a line under the conflict and allows a society to move on.
No because...
The aim should not be punishment of child soldiers but rehabilitation. There are alternatives that achieve this aim better than prosecutions. Truth and Reconciliation Commissions and Disarmarment, Demobilisation and Rehabilitation programs (DDR) are a better way of helping child soldiers come to terms with what they did and re-integrate them into society. Prosecutions pose the risk of being one-sided victor’s justice. They may also be selective because of lack of evidence or an overloaded justice system, so not every child soldier will be prosecuted. It is better to have a comprehensive program of rehabilitation so that all child soldiers can be re-integrated into society and rehabilitated.

Child Soldiers Should Be Prosecuted
Yes because...

Allowing child soldiers immunity from prosecution denies victims justice. If you are a victim of an...

Allowing child soldiers immunity from prosecution denies victims justice. If you are a victim of an ordinary crime at the hands of a child, that child can be prosecuted and held to account but if you are the victim of a child soldier this would not occur. Child soldiers are often ordered to commit abuses against their own families and communities. It is unfair to victims that will have to live side-by-side with their attacker and see them walk free without any punishment.
No because...
Child soldiers are often victims of war themselves. Prosecutions do not allow the opportunity to rehabilitate child soldiers and instead prioritise the rights of victims over the rights of the child, even though the child himself will probably have suffered abuse as well.

Child Soldiers Should Be Prosecuted
Yes because...

Not prosecuting child soldiers may encourage commanders to use child soldiers to commit war crimes b...

Not prosecuting child soldiers may encourage commanders to use child soldiers to commit war crimes because they know there will be no consequences. International efforts to deter warring parties from committing atrocities require a clear and credible message to be sent: anyone involved in war crimes will face justice in future.
No because...
It is unlikely that prosecutions after the fact would have this effect. Prosecutions only happen after the war has ended so those who recruit child soldiers will not take this into consideration. Moreover, they are already breaking the law by using child soldiers so they are unlikely to stop using child soldiers just because the child faces a risk of prosecution.



Child Soldiers Should Be Prosecuted

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36 Comments on "Child Soldiers Should Be Prosecuted"

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The moral gray area is too large on this debate, as I could go either way. It’s too situational of an argument for me to sway one way completely. However, if I absolutely had to make a blanket statment, I would have to lean towards yes. When all the factors seemingly balance out to me, the outlying factor is the fact that crimes are being comitted. In this argument every yes has a no, but the crime behind it all seems too important to me.

If they are not prosecuted then what should be done to them?

well they could be put into rehabilitation camps if they are elgible to go and have commited only 1 crime

All child soldiers should have the opportunity to earn amnesty and a second chance in life through therapy or some other way.
The kids are forced into fighting and held at gunpoint to participate in the killing.
Also, they are drugged so they don’t have empathy and to keep them to stay there and not run away.
therapy will help to decide if they are stable or not.
They are also too young to know the consciences of there actions. when you were young did you think that much before you acted? probably not.

No, because sometimes the young children are held at gun and told to work or they will be shot. The army does a lot to desensitize them. For example drugs. Another way is that they kill people in front of them. These children are victims. They are forced into fighting. They come to the army in hopes of safety.

“Human rights law declares 18 as the minimum legal age for recruitment and use of children in hostilities Recruiting and using children under the age of 15 as soldiers is prohibited under international humanitarian law.” (pg.1) in the article “Child Recruitment and Use”. Yet, also stated in the article “Child Recruitment and Use”, “Hundreds of thousands of children are used as soldiers in armed conflicts around the world.” (pg.1). This shows how much of a problem child soldiers are. The issue of child soldiers first arose in the 1970’s. The article “Child Soldiers in History” states, “As early as the 1970s, some terrorist organizations began recruiting children to help carry out attacks. Sri Lanka’s Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam made use of children to execute successful suicide bombing missions.” (pg.1). And ever since then, people have been debating whether or not child soldiers should be granted amnesty, or be held accountable. Child soldiers should be held accountable because they commit terrible crimes, grow used to violence, and can be unpredictable.
Child soldiers should be held accountable for their actions. One reason is that they commit terrible crimes. As the article “Debatewise: Child Soldiers Prosecution” indicates, “Child soldiers have been responsible for some of the most brutal and violent acts in time.” (pg.1). This implies how dangerous they can be and how bad the crimes are. And written in the article “Prosecuting Child Soldiers For Their Own Safety” suggests, “But there are cases of child soldiers clearly in control of their actions, ‘who were not coerced , drugged or forced into committing atrocities. Some have become child soldiers voluntarily and committed atrocities of their own discretion.’”( pg.2.). This shows, even though it doesn’t explain exactly, what they did, proves that what they do, is in fact, wrong.
A second reason on why child soldiers should be held accountable is because they grow used to violence. As the article “Koinange: Friend gunned down by child soldiers” expresses, “…the use of children for acts of terror, including as suicide bombers, has emerged as a phenomenon of modern warfare” (pg.1). This reveals how, since it is modern, the children have grew up with violent surroundings. Also, shown in the article “Ex-Child Soldier: ‘Shooting Became Just Like Drinking a Glass of Water”quotes, “Somebody being shot in front of you, or you yourself shooting somebody became just like drinking a glass of water.” (pg.2). This further explains that violence became an everyday, normal thing to child soldiers.
The last reason is that child soldiers can be unpredictable. In the article “Ex-Child Soldier: ‘Shooting Became Just Like Drinking a Glass of Water” demonstrates, “We beat up staff members. They came back, and we beat them up some more.” (pg.3). This proves how they can act out and harm other people who are just trying to help. Further explained in the article “Koinange: Friend gunned down by child soldiers” proves, “Most of the peace keepers had passed through without incident, but the child soldiers opened fire on Myles and his television crew.” This shows exactly that child soldiers can be unsuspecting one moment and then cold blooded killers the next.
Some might believe that child soldiers should be given amnesty because they are victims themselves. In the article “Child Recruitment and use” proves that, “Regardless of how children are recruited and of their roles, child soldiers are victims, whose participation in conflict bears serious implication for their physical and emotional well-being.” (pg.1.) This shows how child soldiers are seriously scared and also are victims of war. This also proves how child soldiers grow used to violence because they are still participating and still being affected mentally. People might also think that because they’re manipulated. As the article “Debatewise: Child Soldiers Prosecution” states, “Once children are recruited into the military it is also difficult for them to leave because they become dependent on their commanders for drugs, alcohol, money and food.” (pg.1). This suggests how child soldiers are seriously scarred and are also victims of war. Although, this also reveals how child soldiers can be unpredictable because since they are used to receiving drugs and money, may cause them to act out if they don’t obtain those things. And lastly, many may think that child soldiers are forced to join. As written in the article “Debatewise: Child Soldiers Prosecution” makes clear that “Most children are forcibly recruited even when they enlist they may not have thought carefully about their decision.” (pg.1). This shows how child soldiers are forced into war whether it is because they are being forced, or because they have nowhere else to go. But this misses the fact that some child soldiers willing join to obtain revenge for their families and willingly harm to seek revenge overall.
Because child soldiers carry out horrendous crimes, grow accustomed to violence and can be dubious, they should be held accountable for their actions. I used to think child soldiers should be forgiven. But after researching both sides of the topic, it changed. I have come to realize that child soldiers are no different than children who commit crimes in the US, though the crimes they commit are far worse than those in the US. And also reading about how child soldiers act, horrified me, pushing be to believe that they should be held accountable. But the real question is, when will these acts stop? What will come of the children’s fate once war is over? Is it jail time or freedom?

Not everybody lives in the USA. Those laws don’t always apply.

I think that child soldiers are innocent and should not be punished for the actions they have committed because they are taken away from their families, causing them to lose their childhood and are being drives to fight in wars.

They should not be prosecuted because they were forced to go into war or the commanders will kill them.

many child soldiers are appointed to command postions

No, they should not be prosecuted. They are little kids still learning and translating what they learned into who they are. They should not be prosecuted because people giving them alcohol and drugs are brain washing them literally. So now that not just Child soldiers there Drug addicts and alcoholics. It’s pathetic really to even think they are responsible for the actions they were forced to do.

I believe that child soldiers should not be prosecuted. The reason behind my opinion is that these kids do not have much of a second option to take, these commanders who are taking the kids force them to either fight or be murdered like the rest, which anyone who wants to stay alive knows the only option to choose is to fight. At the end, they’re still kids, they could be easily controlled into thinking that what they’ve done is correct, meaning that the people who pick up the kids to go to war should be the ones getting blamed for everything.

yusufabdi123@gmail.cm

child soldiers should not prosecuted because most are kidnapped and drugged also they have no control over their action during the wartime

actually most child soldiers make the choice to join the military, rebel group, or the terrorist organisations.

You are right in that most chose to go there. However and A Long Way Gone a book describes most kids go there seeking safety and refuge they have no idea what will happen to them.

I say both because, if the child is force to join the war they should not be held for there action. If the child join the battle because they want to then they should be held for there actions.

I think that they should be prosecuted because if you were under 18 and committed a crime in the us you would be sent to prison. Also they are not part of a countries military. and the UN sates that if you kill a soldier and you are not part of a military you will be sent to prison.

You would be sent to juvenile prison.

However, “60 percent [of child soldiers] were 14 and under” (Aftunion), and the UN acknowledges that the juvenile offender must be both over the age of 16, and must have committed a serious crime, but the UN also acknowledges that laws vary in each country, and 16 is the minimum age in which child stop be children. WIth the first eliminated, these soldiers cannot be tried as adults

No, child soldiers should not be held responsible for the crimes they commit. They are under the manipulation of drugs, and they do not know they are doing anything wrong. The commanders who force the children to recruit should be help responsible, because they are putting the idea of, “It is okay to kill,” into the children’s minds.

I agree, they were at the perfect age where everything can influence them, good or bad. If anything they should be considered prisoners of war because they were taken like hostages and forced and influenced to do the things they did with the thought looming over them that if they don’t do the correct thing they will be killed.

I believe that child soldiers should not be prosecuted. The children involved never asked to become a soldier in a war. Most of them had simple lives before this ever hapened. Most child soldiers die fighting a war they didn’t start, and a war they don’t understand. It’s the unjust actions of the adult soldiers that brings them into the fight. As they try to survive, they are desensitized from blood, and death. It’s because of this that they keep fighting. Also, don’t forget that if they try to disobey their commander, they will die.

Actually, some children do volunteer out of patriotism and they want to prove themselves. Most of them do get forced into war, sadly.

I believe that the child soldiers should be prosecuted, because the people that they have killed had a family as well, and that family should not have to be able to live with the thought that there is someone out in the world living a happy life because they killed someone.

They wouldn’t be living a happy life if they are abused, tortured, and raped. They are brainwashed into thinking that’s what they need to do to survive.

Child soldiers should be prosecuted, because even though they were forced to become child soldiers, the crimes they have committed are still there. They still killed, murdered lives, and really, what about the people that’s killed in the process? Should the child soldiers be considered innocent because they are forced to do the crime? Even though they are forced, they just want to live, all that. I think they should be prosecuted for the crimes they’ve done, but the punishment should be lighter because they were “forced” to commit the killings.

No because its like… lets say a robot attacks you. You wouldn’t put the robot in jail. You would put the one controlling it.

A robot isn’t a person, as soon as you mentioned a robot your argument is invalid. We don’t put any creature in jail except for humans. Do you ever see animals in jail. No, because that is stupid. Robots don’t have a mind of their own. While children do. 13 year olds aren’t stupid, they have a conscious and thoughts.

Dude seriously? What if that was your kid? You think these kids want to do what they did? No. What if your kid, or little sibling, or any child you know and love was forced to do this I’m pretty sure you’d say otherwise, am I right? So no they shouldn’t it’s not their fault, yes I understand crimes were still committed, but it’s not their fault.

no no no that’s the problem you can´t just go on saying that ¨what if it was your kid¨ that makes it a biased statement and quite frankly blatantly stated that you have no regard for the argument at hand. His mom isn’t going to decide.

No they should not they are taken from there familys at a young age and force to fight a battle they didnt start so why should they have to fight, theyare alo not responsible for the actions they take if someone tells them to do so.

they was mistreated and didn’t think of they’re decisions

you are wrong they where brought in to this they did not have the choice to do this they were token and they were brought into this. so next time you post a comment think about what you said you in considerate person that thinks they know they are doing but in reality don’t know jack. and also these kids have had their lives token away and for you to say that they didn’t think about their decisions. thank you very much for letting me take my anger out on a kid that does not know anything

No child Soldiers should not be held responsible for anything firstly because we the elders are the ones who started war leaving no choice but to drag the youngsters and teach them murder we should blame oursleves and our military forces instead of the children.

indeed i totally agree with your argument as these children are in simple words being held as a hostage and the hands of these perpetrators.