ACLU Welcomes Child Soldiers Accountability Act
Questions remain on breadth of immigration implications
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
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WASHINGTON, DC – The American Civil Liberties Union was pleased with the unanimous passage of the Child Soldiers Accountability Act yesterday by the House of Representatives. The legislation criminalizes the recruitment and use of child soldiers and gives the United States the authority to deny admission or to deport individuals for such activities.
“This law would bring the United States’ into more compliance with international law and treaty obligations, especially by making it possible to hold recruiters, enlisters and conscriptors of child soldiers accountable for their abuses,” said Jamil Dakwar, director of the ACLU Human Rights Program. “We must send a clear message that recruitment of child soldiers is unlawful and will be a punishable crime under U.S. law.”
“The House version of the Child Soldiers Accountability Act, while still imperfect, attempts to avoid some of the unintended consequences that could have resulted under earlier versions of the bill,” added ACLU Chief Legislative and Policy Counsel Michael Macleod-Ball. “The ACLU urges the conferees to produce a final bill that does not result in the deportation of child soldiers, former child soldiers, or people who were forced or coerced to recruit child soldiers.”
In May, the ACLU Human Rights Program submitted a “shadow report” to the U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) charging that the U.S. has failed to uphold its commitments under the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, which the U.S. ratified in 2002. The report, “Soldiers of Misfortune,” criticizes U.S. military recruiting practices that target children as young as 11, the lack of protections for alleged foreign child soldiers in U.S. military custody, and the denial of protection to former child soldiers from other countries seeking asylum.
After reviewing reports from the ACLU and other non-governmental organizations, the CRC urged the U.S. to enact the Child Soldiers Accountability Act.
The ACLU’s report, “Soldiers of Misfortune,” is available online at: www.aclu.org/intlhumanrights/gen/35245pub20080513.html
The full report of the CRC is available online at: www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/crc/docs/co/CRC.C.OPAC.USA.CO.1.pdf
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