Are Children Considered War Criminals?

The ordeal of Omar Khadr continues as the prime minister of Canada decided to support American plans to place Mr. Khadr on trial for killing a US soldier in Afghanistan in 2002. The Canadian Federal Court of Appeals ordered PM Stephen Harper to seek the return of the now 22 year-old Khadr from the United States. Khadr is the only westerner still jailed in Guantanamo where he faces murder charges for what he allegedly did when a fifteen year old. Harper constantly repeats the mantra that “Omar Khadr has been accused of serious crimes(including murder, attempted murder, conspiracy, material support for terrorism and spying, all in violation of the rules of war.”

Canada’s Federal Court of Appeals believes their nation violated Khadr’s rights and the principles of fundamental justice. A fifteen year old boy captured in the midst of battle, interrogated by foreign troops is hardly able to defend himself under any standard of human justice. In the United States a fifteen year-old facing murder charges would immediately have access to legal counsel and his rights as a child would be taken into consideration. The bottom line is we will never know if his confession was coerced.

The boy undoubtedly needs counseling and emotional assistance in order to return to society.