Child Soldiers in International Courtrooms: Unqualified Perpetrators, Erratic Witnesses and Irreparable Victims?
Research Handbook on Child Soldiers (Mark A. Drumbl & Jastine C. Barrett eds., Edward Elgar 2019)
21 Pages Posted: 31 Jan 2019 Last revised: 3 Mar 2020
Date Written: January 1, 2019
International criminal trials deal with perpetrators and victims of mass atrocity crimes. Child soldiers have appeared in international courtrooms as perpetrators, witnesses and victims. However, these various encounters were often inappropriate, uncomfortable and uneasy. This Chapter provides a comprehensive analysis of child soldiers in international courtrooms focusing on the Special Court for Sierra Leone and the International Criminal Court. It analyzes trials with and about child soldiers, describes applicable legal rules, discusses existing practices and identifies core challenges. The Chapter unpacks an empirically grounded overview of law’s encounters with child soldiers and then normatively problematizes that encounter. In both international and internationalized courtrooms, child soldiers have been characterized, adjectively, as unqualified perpetrators, erratic witnesses and irreparable victims.
Keywords: International Criminal Court, Child Witnesses, Child Perpetrators, Rules of Evidence, Victimization, Prosecution of War Crimes, Child, ICC, Sierra Leone
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