n African Human Rights Law Journal - Challenges in establishing the accountability of child soldiers for human rights violations : restorative justice as an option

Volume 5, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1609-073X
  • E-ISSN: 1996-2096



This paper considers the question of the criminal responsibility of child soldiers for atrocities committed in armed conflict. It highlights the innovation introduced in international criminal law by the Statute of the Special Court for Sierra Leone, which permits the prosecution of children aged 15 and above. In viewing child soldiers not only as perpetrators but also as victims of human rights abuses, it argues that the existing mechanisms of criminal sanction for human rights violations that focus on punishment of the perpetrator are inadequate and that elements of restitutive justice, which are already asserted to a limited extent in recent developments in international human rights law regarding juvenile justice, should be included in the criminal prosecution process. Such an approach would satisfy the minimum requirements of justice while ensuring that child soldiers, who are often themselves the victims of human rights abuses, are appropriately sentenced.

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