A child, but apparently not a child soldier - Macleans.ca

A child, but apparently not a child soldier

by

Stephen Harper explains his stance.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Friday he rejects the premise that Omar Khadr was a “child soldier” because the young Canadian was not a member of an army when he was accused a lobbing a grenade that killed a U.S. soldier…

Harper’s assertion that the government’s “legal position” is that Khadr was not a child soldier is bound to anger supporters of Guantanamo’s youngest and only Western detainee.

“My understanding of international law is, to be a child soldier, you have to be in an army,” he said in the pre-taped interview.

This, interestingly enough, would seem to finesse the position of this government’s own lawyers.

Indeed, Mr. Harper’s position would also seem to finesse that of his own government. Consider this from Laurie Hawn, parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Defence, during debate on June 9 of last year.

In light of the fact that Mr. Khadr was a minor at the time of his alleged offences, we have continuously demanded that the U.S. government take his age into account in all aspects of his detention, treatment, prosecution and potential sentencing, in particular, demanding that he not be subject to the death penalty.