The National Post had a very disturbing photo-journalism piece about the “survivors” of African Warlord Kony over the weekend. Perhaps because of this I received some criticism suggesting that “I hated Child Soldiers.”
Here is my reply.
Not at all. Warlords like Kony have brought a terrible tragedy and I have great concern/sympathy for the children brutalized under him. But Khadr was never a “Child Solider” – a term that describes desperately poor and starving African kids UNDER 12 yo who are brutally pressed into gangland service. There is a huge difference between these kids and Khadr. He has chosen his path and it remains to be seen if he can be rehabilitated – but current indicators are not good at all. But, my main point is that there has been a determined effort to subvert a legitimate definition of “Child Soldier”.
Even in this country, the Young Offenders Act (YOA) applies to any “youth” between 12-18 yo charged with a crime. At 6 weeks shy of his 16th Birthday when captured – Khadr was definitely a “Teen Terrorist” – specially trained in bombs, weapons and clandestine terror methods like planning attacks and securing communications. He is far from a naive Gr 10 Canadian teen from Sherwood Park dropped into a battle-zone and forced to kill or be killed. Khadr did what he did willingly and with great enthusiasm. Are you going to absolve all teens between 12-18 for their crimes? Are you suggesting it was all their families fault – and that teens this age have NO personal agency to make these crucial moral decisions themselves? There are many factors and the YOA takes great care to take them into account in sentences.
Yet even if you buy in to re-definition of a “Child Solider” there is a determined effort to conflate various international treaties like the UN CRC with the application of the Geneva Convention and peace-time civil law and “normal” due process – all to blacken the quite honourable efforts of the U.S and Canadian military forces. But, lets get one thing straight – the United States has NEVER ratified the UN Convention on Rights of the Children (aka UN CRC) unlike Canada who jumped at the chance to approve anything the UN proposed, despite the likely-hood it conflicted with our own Charter or might undermine our own sovereignty. Hence, this international “treaty” can not be applied or upheld in a U.S Court, including the Military Commission Trial at Gitmo where Khadr was tried. Khadr was also not a “solider” under the Geneva Conventions – he was as a member of the terrorist organization al Qaeda – an unlawful enemy combatant and as such he was not subject to POW status. It is also a well accepted fact that in any war, detentions are indefinite or until hostilities are over and “peace has broken out”. The obvious reason for this is to avoid fighting the same enemy twice. So it is a fiction that Khadr was illegally denied his “rights” – he was ascribed not more rights that normally given terrorists operating in democracy’s – a favour that is never returned.
Khadr was a Teen Terrorist. He took great advantage of our free, socially democratic country of Canada – except his family rejected it and preferred to live in Pakistan/Afghanistan (10 of his mostly later 16 yrs in fact). They were “Canadians of Convenience” – so they could use our healthcare and generous social networks. His family never hid the fact they were committed to turning Canada into a country ruled by Sharia Law – and they will not rest until it is accomplished. Yet all that alone is not a crime in Canada – except when you TAKE UP ARMS AGAINST the military forces sworn to protect it – and that is TREASON.
Khadr was found guilty for the murder of Sgt. Speer – our trusted Military Coalition partner – and would have been sentenced to 40 years had it not been plea-bargained down to 8 yrs. But after he serves this sentence, I believe he should stand trial for his other crime of TREASON.