Child soldier trial underway at Guantanamo Ba


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11-08-2010 08:22 AM


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Child soldier trial underway at Guantanamo Ba -

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Child soldier trial underway at Guantanamo Bay

Kim Landers reported this story on Wednesday, August 11, 2010 08:21:06

TONY EASTLEY: The first trial to be held at Guantanamo Bay since Barack Obama became US president
is underway.

Canadian detainee Omar Khadr was captured by US troops in Afghanistan when he was 15. He's the
youngest detainee at Guantanamo Bay and also the last Western prisoner.

The United Nations has condemned the trial saying it could set a dangerous precedent for child
soldiers worldwide.

North America correspondent Kim Landers reports.

KIM LANDERS: Eight years after his capture Omar Khadr's trial is finally beginning, a move that
makes the United States the first nation since World War II to try someone in a military tribunal
for acts they allegedly committed as a minor.

Karen Greenberg is the executive director of the Center on Law and Security at New York University.

KAREN GREENBERG: You know under international law he's a child soldier. And the idea of the child
soldier is that they really are not making the decisions that they make; that they are coerced into
it or brought up into it. And that's what they will probably argue.

KIM LANDERS: This is the first contested trial since Barack Obama became president and promised to
close Guantanamo Bay down. The United Nations has criticised this proceeding.

The UN's Special Envoy for Children in Armed Conflict Radhika Coomaraswamy says in a statement,
quote: "Juvenile justice standards are clear. Children should not be tried before military
tribunals," end quote.

Omar Khadr was 15 when was captured in Afghanistan in 2002. He's accused of throwing a grenade that
killed a US soldier and he's now facing charges including murder, providing material support for
terrorism and spying.

His lawyers say he's not a Taliban warrior; that he was taken to Afghanistan by his father and that
his confessions were obtained through degrading treatment including threats of rape and death.

The jury will be made up of US military officers.

The prosecutor has been asking the members of the jury pool today if they think it's inappropriate
to try a juvenile for a serious crime and if they have a problem with putting someone on trial
eight years after the alleged offence.

None of potential jurors expressed an objection.

This military commission is also the first to be held since the Obama administration revamped the

Karen Greenberg from New York University says it's too early to tell what difference the changes
have made.

KAREN GREENBERG: There is a lot of anticipation about what will happen: how clean the procedures
will be, how open the court process will be etc. And I really do not think we have answers to these

And we don't have answers in general to the questions of the Obama administration and how
Guantanamo is actually going to be different than it was under president Bush.

KIM LANDERS: Omar Khadr has refused a plea deal and faces a maximum life sentence if convicted.

This is Kim Landers in Washington for AM.