Two former child soldiers fighting in Sierra Leone’s civil war plan to sue private security company Aegis Defence Services, which recruited them when they were under 13 years old, over psychological harm.
According to The Guardian, the men’s solicitor Rebekah Read said they served as child soldiers during Sierra Leone’s civil war, that lasted until 2002, and then were hired by Aegis Defence Services as mercenaries in Iraq. The men reportedly claimed their experiences in Iraq had aggravated the psychological trauma they had received in childhood.
“They are quite haunted young men who were children under the age of 13 when they were fighting [in Sierra Leone],” Read was quoted as saying by the newspaper. She added that the two men accused Aegis of failing to monitor their mental health and provide necessary help.
In April, a Danish documentary titled “Bornesoldatens Nye Job” (The Child Soldier’s New Job) revealed that former Sierra Leone child soldiers were among the 2,500 personnel recruited by Aegis and other security companies to work in Iraq for as little as $16 a day.
The civil war raged in Sierra Leone between 1991 and 2002. According to human right organizations, the Revolutionary United Front, state forces and state-supported militias not only recruited but also kidnapped and forced children to fight, while girls were subjected to sexual violence.