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Child Soldiers

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Introduction

I specifically began my essay with this pertinent question to set into play what I am to debate, that being: should child soldiers in various conflict areas throughout the world stand on trial for crimes against humanity? In order to fully understand the issue at hand we must first understand the concept of a "child soldier", their function and motives. Secondly, the idea of Human Rights needs to be incorporated into the issue. Thirdly, what are considered crimes against humanity and do they apply in this particular issue? Then once all the above criteria has been carefully analysed, a clear, logical and in depth answer can be provided as well as possible alternatives or solutions regarding this very serious and prevalent concern. So, what exactly are "child soldiers"? A definition from the United Nations Organisation terms it as follows: While there is no precise definition, the UN considers a child soldier any person under the age of 18 who is a member of or attached to government armed forces or any other regular or irregular armed force or armed political group, whether or not an armed conflict exists. Child soldiers perform a range of tasks including participation in combat, laying mines and explosives; scouting, spying, acting as decoys, couriers or guards; training, drill or other preparations; logistics and support functions, portering, cooking and domestic labour; and sexual slavery or other recruitment for sexual purposes. It has become apparent that in our modern-day world Children under 15 years of age are known to be serving in government or opposition forces in at least 25 conflict zones. ...read more.

Middle

They loot, pillage, steal and murder hundreds and thousands of innocent civilians simply because they were ordered to, often ignorantly unaware of the consequences of their actions. These child soldiers are predominantly found in countries known as conflict areas. These are areas where tension, struggle, and dispute are rife, mostly stemming from political discord amongst inhabitants of the countries, leading to civil war. They fight for the control of these countries or the trade/commerce of these nations, and the supposed "liberation" and "freedom" of its people. Child soldiers are used as a large part of the offensive units of these political movements, but are these justified reasons to send kids who are barely beyond the age of reason, into wars, killing hundreds of people and committing horrific crimes against humanity? No, most certainly not! It appears as though these child soldiers are as much a victim of child infringement as the innocent who suffer their death at the hands of these unaware kids. Children are often "press-ganged" from their own neighbourhoods where local militia or village leaders are forced to offer a number of soldiers to the militia. In the Sudan, children as young as 12 have been rounded up from buses and cars. In Guatemala, youngsters have been grabbed from streets, homes, parties, and even violently removed from churches. In the 1990s, the Ethiopian military practiced a 'vacuum cleaner' approach, recruiting boys, sometimes at gunpoint, from football fields, markets, and religious festivals or on the way to school. ...read more.

Conclusion

These children have been brainwashed into believing what they have been told, and because young children are very easily influenced or swayed, they are often mislead without them fully realizing their horrific actions. They are also pushed into it, with the alternative being a near certain life of fear and struggle, often leading to a gruesome and untimely death. Therefore, after careful analysis of the facts and ideas given, I believe that these child soldiers should stand trial for the atrocities they had committed, child or not, they have committed crimes. Just as a juvenile delinquent must face trial after having transgressed, these children must stand trial. But I believe, that even though these children have committed crimes against humanity, they should receive different treatment to that of a normal transgressor, because being children, they are not fully and wholly aware of their errors. I believe they should receive treatment and counseling at a facility similar to that of a juvenile hall, where they may be re-taught about the morals and ethics of life, about right and wrong, and to be brought back into a world where they no longer have a machine gun as their comfort, but rather a teddy bear. Where their most important tool is not an automatic weapon, but their imaginations. Where their goal is not to kill, but to learn and love. And finally, where they are not just another faceless puppet under the control of fanatics, but rather a face, a name, an identity devoted to the promotion of peace and harmony in a struggling world. ...read more.

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