Lawyers urge release of Gitmo detainees captured as juveniles

Lawyers for two Guantánamo Bay detainees captured as juveniles called for their release April 29—the same day the UN Security Council held an open meeting on children in armed conflict. Lawyers for Canadian Guantánamo detainee Omar Khadr, who was 14 or 15 when he allegedly killed a US soldier with a grenade in Afghanistan, and Mohammed Jawad, who was 16 or 17 when he allegedly injured soldiers with a grenade, argued that their clients’ detention violates the UN Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, to which the US is a signatory.

The protocol prohibits a juvenile from being considered a member of an armed group. The lawyers urged the US government to take action at home as it seeks to protect children around the world, pointing to the statement of US ambassador to the UN Susan Rice at the Security Council meeting, in which she said: “The United States is deeply committed to the welfare of children, and that includes protecting children from the scourge of war.” UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon also delivered an address in which he urged the Security Council to expand a 2005 resolution to better protect children against physical and sexual violence. (Jurist, April 30)

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