It's official. The United States is the first country since World War II to try someone before a military tribunal for acts allegedly committed while he was a minor. Of course, then again, Omar Khadr is accused of killing an American and that obviously puts his purported offence in an entirely different level. The United Nations wasted no time in condemning the trial. From Reuters Alternet:
The United Nations said the trial is of dubious legality and could set a dangerous precedent for child soldiers worldwide.
"Juvenile justice standards are clear -- children should not be tried before military tribunals," said Radhika Coomaraswamy, the U.N. special envoy for children in armed conflict.
But the military officers in the jury pool indicated they saw no problem with trying Khadr.
"Does anyone believe that juveniles should not be prosecuted for violent offenses?" Prosecutor Jeff Groharing asked them. "Does anyone feel the accused should be held to a different standard because he was 15 years old at the time of the alleged offenses?"
None said they held those beliefs.
One needn't have sympathy with Khadr to understand the prohibition against prosecuting child soldiers. Invariably they are victims, coerced into fighting and international agreements require they be treated that way. This is however the United States military which, over the past decade, has repeatedly demonstrated a skewed grasp of international law.