Khadr military trial violates international law on child soldiers: lawyers

Khadr military trial violates international law on child soldiers: lawyers

[JURIST] Lawyers for Guantanamo Bay detainee Omar Khadr [JURIST news archive] on Friday argued that he was a child soldier when he was captured in Afghanistan and that the US military commission responsible for trying him lacks jurisdiction over the case. In the motion, filed with US military judge Col. Peter Brownback, Khadr's lawyers asked for the case to be dismissed saying that it violates the Optional Protocol of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child [text], which gives special protection to children under 18 involved in armed conflicts. Khadr's lawyers also argued that the US Congress did not grant Guantanamo Bay military commissions the authority to hear cases involving child soldiers charged with juvenile crimes. A ruling on the motion is expected early next month. The Canadian Press has more.

Khadr, now 21, faces life imprisonment after allegedly throwing a grenade that killed one US soldier and wounded another while fighting with the Taliban in Afghanistan in 2002. He was charged [charge sheet, PDF; JURIST report] in April 2007 with murder, attempted murder, conspiracy and providing material support for terrorism, as well as spying. In November, UN Special Representative for the Children and Armed Conflict Unit Radhika Coomaraswamy [official profile] warned the US that prosecuting Khadr for alleged war crimes committed while he was a minor could set a dangerous precedent [JURIST report]. Human rights groups have also criticized the US for proceeding with the trial.