Chapter 16: Child soldiers in international courtrooms: unqualified perpetrators, erratic witnesses and irreparable victims?
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International criminal trials deal with perpetrators and victims of mass atrocity crimes. Child soldiers have appeared in international courtrooms as perpetrators, witnesses and victims. However, these various encounters were often inappropriate, uncomfortable and uneasy. This chapter provides a comprehensive analysis of child soldiers in international courtrooms, focusing on the Special Court for Sierra Leone and the International Criminal Court. It analyses trials with and about child soldiers, describes applicable legal rules, discusses existing practices and identifies core challenges. The chapter unpacks an empirically grounded overview of law’s encounters with child soldiers and then normatively problematizes that encounter. In both international and internationalized courtrooms, child soldiers have been characterized as unqualified perpetrators, erratic witnesses and irreparable victims.

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