There is significant normative literature on the moral and legal culpability of child soldiers. However, there is little empirical research regarding how child soldiers are punished by states. This thesis compares how 17 governments implemented consequences for child soldiers. It examines legal sanctions and also other policies, directives, and extrajudicial mechanisms including amnesties, alternative justice programs and the revocation of citizenship. Findings indicate child soldiers are typically treated similarly to their adult counterparts, with three exceptions: (a) children more often are released through handover protocols; (b) children less often face trial; and (c) at trial, children more often receive lenient sentences. Findings also suggest child soldiers receive amnesty more often in African countries than elsewhere. Two models are presented to illustrate how child soldiers will most likely be treated by governments, how age influences that treatment, and how the specific timeframe of an armed conflict affects both issues.
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Thesis advisor: Corrado, Raymond
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