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Child Soldiers in Paraguay: the Case of Vargas Areco

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Chapter Summary

The topic of child soldiers was indirectly an issue before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in the Vargas Areco case. Gerardo Vargas Areco had been recruited to military service at the age of 15 years. He had voluntarily joined the military service. On 30 December 1989 he was arrested as a sanction for failing to return to his barracks after leave to visit his family over Christmas. A non-commissioned officer shot him from the back killing him, as he was running away allegedly with the intention of escaping from detachment. In connection with international humanitarian law, the Court noted that both Additional Protocols to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949 enshrined norms of special protection of children. In what concerns the international protection of human rights, the tribunal noted that that branch of international law demands the imposition of restrictions to the recruitment of minors in armed forces.

Keywords: armed forces; child soldiers; Inter-American Court of Human Rights; international humanitarian law; international law; military service; Paraguay; protection of children; the case of Vargas Areco



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