Child recruitment 'was war crime'
The appeals panel of the Special Court for Sierra Leone has ruled that recruiting child soldiers was established as a war crime at the time of the civil war in that country. This opens the way for what will be the first ever prosecution for child recruitment at an international war crimes tribunal. The picture of a child soldier, clutching a gun almost as big as himself, has become the enduring image of West Africa’s civil conflicts. Both sides in Sierra Leone used very young fighters, in defiance of international conventions on the rights of the child, and leaders from both sides now face prosecution. But former deputy Defence Minister Hinga Norman, who recruited and armed pro-government militias, argued that despite these international conventions, and despite general disapproval of under-age recruitment, it actually was not a war crime under international law at the time the acts were committed. Full Story