A Swedish woman has been charged with war crimes for taking her young son to Syria, where he was drafted as a child soldier, and ultimately killed in the country’s long-simmering conflict, prosecutors said on Tuesday.
The Swedish prosecution alleges that the unidentified woman brought her son to Syria in August 2013, when he was 12 years old. Between that date and May 2016, the child engaged directly and regularly in hostilities perpetrated by various armed groups, including the Islamic State, according to prosecutors.
âThe investigation showed that while living at home the son was educated and trained to participate in hostilities, received military equipment and weapons, and was used in combat and for propaganda purposes, as well as for other war-related operations, âsaid prosecutor Reena Devgun, quoted in the statement.
The case will be heard by the Stockholm District Court. The accused, who returned from Syria to Sweden in December 2020, claims her innocence. This is the first time that Swedish prosecutors have brought war crimes charges in the country in connection with the recruitment of child soldiers, the statement said.
The boy died in 2017, when he was 16. The facts underlying the war crimes charges focus on his involvement in the Syrian conflict between the ages of 12 and 14, apparently due to the fact that the use of child soldiers under the age of 15 is internationally prohibited by both treaty and customary law, and is defined as a war crime in the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. Although international law provides various protections for soldiers under the age of 18, those under 15 enjoy more comprehensive legal coverage, as explained by the International Committee of the Red Cross.
Syria is a hotbed of recruitment of child soldiers. According to a 2021 UN report on children in armed conflict, between July 2018 and June 2020, more than 1,400 children were recruited or used for conflict-related purposes by at least 25 different parties to the simmering conflict. for a long time in the country.
ISIS is known to have prioritized the recruitment of child soldiers. According to a 2020 report from the Middle East Initiative, the organization recruited children by offering monthly stipends to the families of each child recruited, as well as a free “educational” program, which included indoctrination efforts and training. basic military.