In accordance with the Memorandum of Understanding between the Society of International Law Singapore(SILS) and the YIJUN Institute of International Law signed on September 2, 2013, SILS is officially serving for the Journal of East Asia & International Law as the Singapore correspondent. The Journal honorably welcomes SILS.
A. General News
B. The Summer Institute of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights
At all times relevant to this Indictment, throughout the Republic of Sierra Leone, AFRC/RUF routinely conscripted, enlisted and/or used boys and girls under the age of 15 to participate in active hostilities. Many of these children were first abducted, then trained in AFRC/RUF camps in various locations throughout the country, and thereafter used as fighters.Another testimony from the RUF Case mentioned:
Thousands of children were abducted from all over Sierra Leone; Thousands of children underwent military training at AFRC/RUF camps; Children were formed into Small Boys Units and Small Girls Units; and Armed Small Boys Units and Small Girls Units were used in combat.It was heard in the Charles Taylor case that:
Between about 30 November 1996 and about 18 January 2002, throughout the Republic of Sierra Leone, members of the RUF, AFRC, AFRC/RUF Junta or alliance, and/or Liberian fighters, assisted and encouraged by, acting in concert with, under the direction and/or control of, and/or subordinate to the ACCUSED, routinely conscripted, enlisted and/or used boys and girls under the age of 15 to participate in active hostilities. […]Ms. Alagendra broadly classified the prosecution evidence into several categories: (i) former child soldiers (ii) rebel and military commanders (iii) victims (iv) social workers and experts (v) documentary evidence from the United Nations and NGOs. She shared that the prosecution also had to use show that commanders had reason to know that the soldiers recruited were children. They showed this by the physical appearance of the child. However, Ms. Alagendra noted that this was particularly challenging, as children may not look their age due to malnutrition or deformities. Moreover, birth certificates were not commonly available. Nonetheless, the prosecution relied on the physical appearance of the children such as his/her size, height etc. Experts were called in to do bone and teeth scans but even then, this was imperfect and not adapted to African physiology. However, the prosecution managed to show that military or rebel units were sometime called small Boys Units" and this was sufficient to put the perpetrators on notice that there was a substantial likelihood that the persons being used in hostilities. The prosecution also found that records were kept of the combatant's age.
The truth of the matter is - there is a unit of young people, almost like an auxiliary, like you have a boy scout[…]
We have got about 15, 20,000 soldiers. Some of them are leaving home. They take along with them younger members of the family. You have a young cousin 10/12, you take him along. He would carry your food. He would carry maybe even your rifle. He will hold it while they are going into areas where they are about to go into combat,
So when you hear of reports that there were some young men seen in Liberia carrying rifles, those reports are true, but what the reports don't say is this: That the men that they see carrying those rifles are young men walking with their family, but do not enter combat. Never entered combat.In concluding her seminar, Ms. Alagendra raised three pertinent questions which she believed warranted further discussion (i) How can one effectively prove the age of the child? (ii) What acts constitute children in hostilities? (iii) Should child soldiers be treated as victims or perpetrators, especially for those involved in atrocities against civilians? Should they then be persecuted?
Ms. Lan Shiow(Singapore Management University)