Malice supplies the age? : assessing the culpability of adolescent soldiers
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California Western international law journal, Vol. 44, fall 2013, p. 1-38
Maria Achton Thomas
This article considers the issues arising out of international criminal law's incoherence in dealing with child soldiers as perpetrators. Particularly those aged fifteen to seventeen. This article discusses the legal and moral concerns of attaching criminal responsibility to adolescent soldiers before proposing that prosecuting adolescent soldiers may be appropriate in certain circumstances. In doing so, the article recognizes the tension between international law's normative commitment to protect children and the duty to end impunity and seek justice for the victims of war crimes and crimes against humanity. It proposes how this tension might be resolved through case-by-case application of the criminal defenses of superior orders and duress, and suggests how these defenses might be applied to recognize the specific characteristics of adolescent soldiers.