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NEWS STORY

Statement by UNICEF concerning the case of Omar Khadr




February 2, 2008

On 4 February 2008, a military commission at Guantanamo Bay will review the case of Omar Khadr and decide whether his prosecution for war crimes should proceed. Omar Khadr was arrested in Afghanistan in 2002 for crimes he allegedly committed when he was 15 years old.

UNICEF believes that children alleged to have committed crimes while they were child soldiers should be considered primarily as victims of adults who have broken international law by recruiting and using children in the first place, and that these individuals must be provided with assistance for their social reintegration.

If in contact with a justice system, persons under 18 at the time of the alleged offense must be treated in accordance with international juvenile justice standards which provide them with special protection.

As an organization that works actively to prevent unlawful recruitment, to facilitate reintegration of child soldiers, and to promote due process, UNICEF is concerned that such a prosecution, in particular in front of a military commission not equipped to meet the required standards, would set a dangerous precedent for the protection of hundreds of thousands of children who find themselves unwittingly involved in conflict around the world.

About UNICEF
UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.


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