Durbin Statement on First Ever Deportation of Human Rights Violators Based on His Use of Child Soldiers

First Time the Durbin's Child Soldiers Accountability Act Has Been Used to Deport a War Criminal

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – US Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) released the following statement today after an immigration judge ordered the deportation of a George Saigbe Boley, a former Liberian military leader and human rights violator. This deportation was the first under the Child Soldiers Accountability Act, a 2008 law authored by Senator Durbin, which made it illegal under US law to recruit or use child solders. Boley was found to have recruited and used child soldiers while fighting in the Liberian civil war in the 1990s.


“The United States must not be a safe haven for those who exploit children as soldiers. Period,” Durbin said. “The use of children as combatants is one of the most despicable human rights violations in the world today and affects the lives of hundreds of thousands of boys and girls who are used as combatants, porters, human mine detectors and sex slaves. The ability of the U.S. Government to prosecute and punish those who violate the law tells the world that U.S. will not be a safe haven for those who exploit children.”


Children are currently fighting as soldiers in dozens of countries. Denied a childhood and often subjected to horrific violence, hundreds of thousands of children are serving as soldiers for both rebel groups and government forces. Physically vulnerable and easily intimidated, children typically make obedient soldiers and participate in all aspects of warfare. Many are recruited by force, and often compelled to follow orders under threat of death.


The Child Soldiers Accountability Act gives the U.S. government the authority to prosecute, deport or deny admission to an individual who recruited or used child soldiers under the age of 15. Until the law passed in 2008, recruiting and using child soldiers did not violate U.S. criminal or immigration law. As a result, the U.S. government was unable to punish child soldier perpetrators who were found in our country, in stark contrast to other grave human rights violations, including genocide and torture.


Durbin is the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights.