I realize that I am about a week or two late with blogging about this but I figured that since the illustrious Xtra is on his four day beer and cheese sabbatical that I should pick up some of the slack and write something.
On June 20th the U.N. backed Sierra Leone Special Court found three individuals guilty of war crimes relating to the 11-year civil war that raged in Sierra Leone until 2002. What makes this case a rather remarkable landmark ruling in regards to human rights law is that for the first time an international criminal tribunal has successfully prosecuted individuals for the recruitment and use of children as soldiers.
Furthermore, by setting legal precedent this ruling should have a major impact on the ICC’s current prosecution of warlords from Uganda and the DRC who are also being charged with the war crime of utilizing child soldiers.
If anyone is interested in reading more about the topic of child soldiers I would highly recommend the book A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah. Beah describes how he was used as a child soldier by the Sierra Leone government army at the age of 13 until he was finally removed from the fighting by UNICEF and eventually entered a rehabilitation center before finishing up high school in New York City. I am currently about half way through this book and although parts of the book can be extremely graphic and heart wrenching, it’s a rather amazing story that everyone should read.
And one more note that kind of relates to the topic. I was tooling around the Minnesota State Fair website today (why wouldn’t I be) and I noticed that Sierra Leon’s Refugee All Stars are going to be playing two free shows at the fair this year on August 29th and 30th. For those not familiar with the Refugee All Stars their story is also rather remarkable, all of the members began performing together in refugee camps with what ever instruments they could find during the civil war and eventually released an album last September. If you like roots reggae music you should really check them out.