On Monday, the Child Soldiers Accountability Act was adopted by the Senate after being unanimously passed in the House of Representatives on September 8. This new law will make it a federal crime to recruit “or use soldiers under the age of 15″ and most importantly “permits the United States to bring charges under the law against both US citizens and non-citizens who are in the United States”.
Said Jo Becker, child soldier advocate at Human Rights Watch, comments on the leadership the US is showing on the issue:
International tribunals are beginning to prosecute individuals for recruiting child soldiers, but almost no national governments have done so. The United States is giving real leadership to efforts to end the use of child soldiers.
Here is a summary of the law:
Child Soldiers Accountability Act of 2007 – Amends the federal criminal code to impose a fine and/or 20-year prison term for recruiting, enlisting, or conscripting a person under 15 years of age into an armed force or group (other than a group assembled solely for nonviolent political association) or knowingly using such person to participate actively in combat hostilities or attempting or conspiring to do so. Imposes a life sentence if the death of any person results from a violation of this Act. Provides for: (1) expanded jurisdiction for prosecuting U.S. nationals and aliens who violate this Act; and (2) a 10-year limitation period for prosecuting violations.Amends the Immigration and Nationality Act to: (1) render any alien who has recruited or used child soldiers inadmissible or deportable; and (2) disqualify such alien for asylum or withholding or removal.