Free the children from Guantanamo: U.N. advocate
NEW YORK – The U.N. advocate for children and armed conflict says the U.S. should release all child detainees at Guantanamo including Canadian Omar Khadr.
Radhika Coomaraswamy, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, welcomed the U.S. decision to repatriate Mohammed Jawad who was only 12 when captured and imprisoned without trial at GITMO.
She said the decision to release Jawad “abides by the spirit of the United Nations Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child.”
However, the U.S. and Somalia are the only two nations that have not signed the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
“Trying young people for war crimes with regards to alleged acts committed when they were minors would have created a dangerous international precedent,” she said.
Jawad, an Afghan, was taken prisoner in 2002 when he may only have been 12-years-old. Most of the charges against him were ruled inadmissible in 2008, and last month a United States District Court ordered his release from Guantánamo.
The UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, welcomed Jawad’s release yesterday and called for accountability for anyone who had violated the law.
Jawad was one of the last three juvenile detainees at Guantánamo who were under the age of 18 when they allegedly committed their crimes. Mohammed El-Gharani was released recently and Omar Khadr’s case is under consideration