UN expert on children welcomes US suspension of trials at Guantánamo

21 January 2009
Radhika Coomaraswamy, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict

The Secretary-General’s top adviser on children and armed conflict today welcomed United States President Barack Obama’s decision to suspend continuing trials at Guantánamo Bay, including those of Omar Khadr and Mohammed Jawad who are being charged with war crimes committed when they were under the age of 18.

Special Representative Radhika Coomaraswamy reiterated her concerns over the creation of a global precedent where individuals are tried for war crimes with regards to acts allegedly committed when there were children.

She expressed hope that these cases will be resolved in manner that respects the international standards that safeguard children’s rights.

Mr. Khadr, a Canadian citizen arrested in 2002 in Afghanistan, is in Guantánamo for crimes allegedly committed when he was 15 years old, while Mr. Jawad, according to the non-governmental organization Human Rights Watch (HRW), has been in US custody since he was either 16 or 17.

Ms. Coomaraswamy noted that she will continue to follow both of these cases closely.


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