Parent Accountability for Crimes of Child Soldiers
November 28, 2012
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The previous post “Children and Crimes” brings up an interesting point on responsibility of choices. In the first video clip that we watched in class yesterday, a mother said something to the effect of, “they blame us for our children’s crimes.” It raises a question that is only briefly discussed in the issue of child soldiers: are parents ever guilty for crimes committed by their children?
In the case of Uganda, most child soldiers were abducted and/or drugged, thus released – to a certain degree – of responsibility since they didn’t “make that decision.” However, there have been cases in which parents have sold their children to rebels or freely given them away (sometimes, for fear of what the rebels would do if they didn’t). In both scenarios, the parents of those children made the choices for them. In this case, shouldn’t parents also be held accountable? In which cases are they responsible and which cases are they not?
While it would not be fair to fully pass on the baton of guilt and responsibility on over to their parents if the child was, in fact, conscious of his decisions, it does raise the important concept of culpability.
The Senate of the Philippines endorsed a Special Protection of Children in Situations of Armed Conflict Bill in order to counteract the use of children in armed conflict in the Philippines by the communist rebel New People’s Army (NPA) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, as well as by government forces and militias.
Part of the Bill makes it “unlawful for parents, ascendants, guardians, step parents or collateral relatives within the third degree of consanguinity or affinity, or any person having control or moral ascendancy to the child, to allow, willfully encourage, compel, coerce or influence their child or children to be part of an armed group or a governmental armed force.” Therefore, the bill allows for the parents of child soldiers to be prosecuted. Recently, Human Rights Watch suggested that the bill be amended to omit the above clause. Communities and families do have a role to play in preventing children from associating with armed forces or armed groups and in certain cases – if they actively fail in that role – they should be held accountable.