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Senate Judiciary Committee Approves Child Soldiers Legislation

On November 8, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved, by voice vote, the Child Soldiers Accountability Act of 2007 (S. 2135), a bill to ensure that the United States does not act as a safe haven for individuals who participated in the recruitment and enlistment of child soldiers under the age of fifteen.

Sponsored by Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL), the bill would “prohibit the recruitment or use of child soldiers, designate persons who recruit or use child soldiers as inadmissible aliens, [and] allow the deportation of persons who recruit or use child soldiers.” Individuals found guilty of this offense would pay a fine and/or face up to 20 years in prison. In addition, if the recruitment of child soldiers resulted in any deaths, the individual could face life imprisonment. While the recruitment and use of child soldiers violates international law, it does not violate current U.S. criminal or immigration law. The Child Soldiers Accountability Act of 2007 would criminalize the recruitment and use of child soldiers under U.S. criminal and immigration law. The bill also would impose a ten-year statute of limitations on the prosecution of the law.

During consideration of the bill, the committee approved, by unanimous consent, an amendment by Sen. Durbin that would make immigrants found guilty of this offense ineligible for a stay of deportation.

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