Harper does not recognize Khadr as a child soldier

I rarely post here in my own voice. Almost all of the posts previous to this were news clippings, and most of the posts after this will be news clippings. I just have to step in this one time to help Stephen Harper understand something: Khadr was a child soldier.

First, the quote that prompted this commentary from the Calgary Herald:

“Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who refuses to repatriate Khadr before finding out if the U. S. intends to drop charges, said Saturday in a Global TV interview he does not accept Khadr was a child soldier because he was not part of any army.”

I am going to assume the quote is correct. My question to Harper then is rather simple: who is a child soldier under your scheme? I don’t know if I would call the Lord’s Resistance Army a real army. More of a militia/guerrilla group, no? I guess that rules out those child soldiers. Yeah… oh wait, that’s not what the ICC said. In fact, all the ICC said was that the LRA was an “armed group” that made children fight. Those children were child soldiers.

I could keep picking cases, but lets save time and cut to the definitions. Harper doesn’t get to just make up these definitions. Canada ratified the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict in 2002 (see here). Now I am no expert on child soldiers or international law, but Article 6, part 3, reads:

States Parties shall take all feasible measures to ensure that persons within their jurisdiction recruited or used in hostilities contrary to the present Protocol are demobilized or otherwise released from service. States Parties shall, when necessary, accord to such persons all appropriate assistance for their physical and psychological recovery and their social reintegration.

Okay, so Khadr was under 18 (check), was part of an “armed group” (check), and will soon be under Canadian jurisdiction. Canada’s obligations then will be to “accord to [Khadr] all appropriate assistance for [his] physical and psychological recovery and [his] social reintegration.” This is all pretty simple, really.

Finally, in cases the cognitive dissonance on Khadr isn’t harsh enough yet, lets also remember that the Canadian government regularly spends taxpayer’s money on foreign aid aimed at rehabilitating child soldiers in other countries (see here, here and here). Hmm, so we can expect African governments to reintegrate child soldiers, but we should not expect the same from the Canadian government? This is a new low.

Ryan