Sonic Forces me to look into War Crimes laws (published 2020-05-27)

The title says it all. Read my annotated chat log of a 1 hour long discussion of war crimes in Sonic Forces.

It started as an innocent question:

[10:34 PM] remmie: quick question
[10:34 PM] remmie: isn't it like, not allowed to hold prisoners of war accountable for what they're 
forced to do or something like that?
[10:36 PM] NKXanP: i dunno

Little did remmie know, we were about to spend an hour looking into war crime laws.

[10:36 PM] remmie: hm
[10:36 PM] remmie: they must be treated humanely, according to google,
[10:36 PM] remmie: eggman is a war criminal
[10:38 PM] remmie: hmm
[10:38 PM] NKXanP: sonic was also a PoW if you wanna go that route
[10:38 PM] remmie: ok wait
[10:39 PM] Pensmith: I think it mostly depends on how much was at stake, both for them and whoever 
is affect by it. In a case of unwanted mind-control (going off what was mentioned earlier about the 
Phantom Ruby), the level of control (whether it's just flaring negative emotions or straight-up 
spectator in own body) would probably be a major factor
[10:39 PM] NKXanP: and given that he was supposedly tortured, that means that Eggman broke the 
Geneva Convention and is guilty of war crimes

So basically, in Sonic Forces, Sonic is taken prisoner by Eggman after being defeated by a new villain, named Infinite. For the next six months, according to the game (although you couldn't tell it from how he reacts throughout the rest of the game), he was tortured. Torturing a prisoner of war is a war crime (as remmie said, you have to treat PoWs humanely), so Eggman is definitely a war criminal. This doesn't answer the question though: can you hold a PoW accountable for something they were forced to do?

[10:39 PM] remmie: but child soldiers are generally not held accountable for their crimes
[10:39 PM] remmie: hmm
[10:39 PM] remmie: oh my fucking god
[10:40 PM] remmie: everyone is a war criminal they're all like 16
[10:40 PM] remmie: fighting in a w a r
[10:40 PM] NKXanP: how does that make them war criminals-
[10:40 PM] remmie: child soldiers
[10:40 PM] remmie: well, no
[10:40 PM] remmie: wait- no yeah
[10:40 PM] NKXanP: okay wait
[10:41 PM] remmie: anyone under 15
[10:41 PM] NKXanP: yep
[10:41 PM] remmie: tthat means amy, silver, tails...
[10:41 PM] NKXanP: so Amy? isn't she like 12
[10:41 PM] NKXanP: wait Silver's 15 I thought
[10:41 PM] remmie: charmy is apparently 6
[10:41 PM] NKXanP: he was 16 at one point IIRC
[10:41 PM] remmie: true
[10:41 PM] kia: yeah amys 12-
[10:41 PM] NKXanP: oh fuck
[10:41 PM] NKXanP: Silver's 14
[10:41 PM] remmie: yep
[10:41 PM] kia: i think tails is 8?
[10:42 PM] remmie: yep!
[10:42 PM] kia: i only know this because i was trying to make sure the fandom is sane because of 
their ships

What we found, instead of an answer (although remmie did find some source that said that child soldiers aren't generally held accountable for their crimes), was that technically, the Resistance, by virtue of using child soldiers, were actually ALSO war criminals.

[10:42 PM] NKXanP: okay but I'd like to bring your attention to the fact that Eggman tortured a PoW
[10:42 PM] NKXanP: which means the Geneva Convention is out the window IMO
[10:43 PM] NKXanP: we've got kids fighting in a war, PoWs being tortured
[10:43 PM] NKXanP: either the Geneva Convention doesn't exist in the Sonic world or nobody cares 
about following it
[10:43 PM] remmie: well
[10:44 PM] remmie: Both in Vietnam and Japan, PoW were treated horribly,
[10:44 PM] NKXanP: especially since the Resistance not only has children soldiers, they have 
[10:44 PM] NKXanP: so nobody in this universe gives a shit about the Geneva Convention 
[10:44 PM] remmie: lmao
[10:44 PM] remmie: or maybe it doesnt apply to them because they are mobians

I tried desperately to remind everybody that Eggman is definitely a war criminal, and that the Geneva Convention may not apply to a world of colorful anthropomorphic animals, but alas, we continued.

[10:43 PM] remmie: alright mainly what i was looking at the PoW rules and Child Soldiers thing 
because. Infinite and Sonic, and how the Resistance would have to deal with Infinite
[10:43 PM] remmie: especially since Infinite, in most of my fics, maybe physically 15 to 16, but 
he's actually like 8-

The thing remmie is referring to is the Project Infinite theory, where Infinite was actually created by Eggman with false memories to serve as a bearer of the Phantom Ruby. Because of that theory, he's physically older than he is actually old.

[10:45 PM] kia: i said "what the heck, you guys have children fighting a war" and my sister is 
[10:45 PM] Pensmith: If it even exists in this universe - for all we know, child soldiers are just 
the norm for mobians. But that's venturing quite a bit into Grimdark territory
[10:46 PM] kia: it might be different for em yeah
[10:47 PM] remmie: ho boy
[10:47 PM] remmie: welp, I know what route I'm taking this fic!!! time to add some points to my 

The fic in question, Red, As Far As The Eye Can See, is about Infinite being abandoned by Eggman in a lab post-war, and the characters having to deal with that. Meanwhile, I had a question or two:

[10:47 PM] NKXanP: is Infinite even technically a PoW
[10:47 PM] NKXanP: the war's over
[10:48 PM] remmie: I mean like
[10:48 PM] remmie: I was checking to see if he counted as one but he's closer to the child soldiers
[10:49 PM] NKXanP: not really?
[10:49 PM] remmie: In my story, at least
[10:49 PM] NKXanP: I mean, according to most info I can find he's definitely at least 17
[10:50 PM] NKXanP: but if you have him younger in the story than sure
[10:50 PM] remmie: yepp
[10:51 PM] NKXanP: i guess the main thing is that there's no Word of God when it comes to 
Infinite's age
[10:51 PM] remmie: yep
[10:52 PM] NKXanP: which makes things... infinitely harder to pinpoint
[10:52 PM] kia: time travel to 2099 and hope its been confirmed by then
[10:52 PM] NKXanP: (sorry not sorry)
[10:52 PM] kia: (love the pun)
[10:53 PM] Pensmith:
>which makes things... infinitely harder to pinpoint
That pun clearly had a non-zero amount of energy put into it

Specifically, with no actual frame of reference as to Infinite's age, remmie is free to make him as young as needed to turn him into a child soldier. (Also, it took me a while to realize Pensmith had made a bad pun to follow my bad pun.)

[10:55 PM] NKXanP:
>The Children and Justice During and in the Aftermath of Armed Conflict report says: “If a child 
under the age of 15 is considered too young to fight, then he or she must also be considered too 
young to be held criminally responsible for serious violations of IHL while associated with armed 
forces or armed groups.”
[10:55 PM] NKXanP: so Infinite probably wouldn't be considered a war criminal if he's a child 
[10:55 PM] NKXanP: since that seems to be a common theme
[11:04 PM] NKXanP: so basically, a common interpretation of war crime statutes is that Eggman would 
be guilty for whatever Infinite did (if Infinite is a child soldier)
[11:05 PM] NKXanP: because you don't hold the child soldier culpable for what they did, you hold 
the person who told the child soldier to do it accountable (in a concept called "command 
[11:07 PM] remmie: yeah, that makes sense
[11:10 PM] NKXanP:
>Young said the “so-called 'defence of superior orders'... the [Nuremberg] principle that 'I was 
just following orders' can no longer relieve any of us of criminal (and moral) responsibility for 
unconscionable acts we commit at the behest of others.”
>However, Rule 155 of Customary IHL, provided leeway, where “coercion and duress may provide 
exceptions… and one can quickly imagine how this principle might mitigate the responsibility of a 
child soldier who was forcibly recruited and forced, under threat of harm, to commit war crimes,” 
ICRC adviser Young said.
[11:11 PM] NKXanP:
mes for your perusal
[11:12 PM] NKXanP: i would say what eggman did to infinite, especially if we consider zero to be a 
child soldier, would count as duress
[11:18 PM] NKXanP: wow, just stepped away for a few and realized:
[11:19 PM] NKXanP: Sonic Forces me to look into war crime statutes
[11:20 PM] remmie: hsnfhsjdjsjhd

And, hence, the denouement of this whole "who's a war criminal" question, and the ultimate answer to the original question: Eggman's a war criminal, for torturing a PoW and possibly using a child soldier, the Resistance are war criminals, for their definite use of child soldiers, and the answer to the original question: no, Infinite would not be held accountable for anything Eggman made him do, seeing as how he would be under duress, and possibly underage to boot.

That being said, I did have some questions about the whole Resistance-child-soldier angle, so I kept going:

[11:24 PM] NKXanP: so as a tally, Cream, Charmy (6), Tails (8), Amy (12), Silver and Blaze (14) are 
all child soldiers
[11:24 PM] NKXanP: under the Geneva Convention
[11:24 PM] NKXanP: but the Resistance didn't commit any other war crimes I don't think
[11:24 PM] remmie: Cream is 8 but yes
[11:24 PM] NKXanP: some sources say she's 6
[11:25 PM] remmie: huh
[11:25 PM] NKXanP: I'm just going off the chart I have in front of me
[11:25 PM] remmie: gotcha
[11:25 PM] NKXanP: this is the chart btw
-snip image-
[11:25 PM] NKXanP: the Babylon Rogues weren't involved, but Jet would be a child soldier if they 
were (since he's 14)
[11:26 PM] NKXanP: everybody else is above board

The chart in question

[11:27 PM] NKXanP: also you could make the argument that they didn't actively recruit child soldiers
[11:27 PM] NKXanP: (they as in the Resistance)
[11:27 PM] NKXanP: in fact, I really don't see them actively recruit anybody anywhere
[11:28 PM] remmie: That is true
[11:28 PM] remmie: Anyone who joined, joined of their own personal will with no prompting
[11:29 PM] remmie: well
[11:29 PM] remmie: maybe eggman himself is a prompt of its own
[11:30 PM] NKXanP: but Eggman isn't working for the Resistance
[11:30 PM] NKXanP: ...or is he?
[11:30 PM] NKXanP: *dramatic dun-dun-dun*
[11:30 PM] remmie: hsnfhshfhd

I looked into it more, and made a somewhat shocking discovery:

[11:30 PM] NKXanP: so technically even using child soldiers in a battle is a war crime
[11:31 PM] remmie: yikes
[11:33 PM] NKXanP: but it's complicated
[11:34 PM] NKXanP: because the Geneva Convention can't even agree with itself on whether you can 
use children in support roles or not
[11:34 PM] remmie: everything about war crimes is stupidly complicated
[11:34 PM] NKXanP: Protocol I says they just can't be DIRECTLY involved in fighting
[11:34 PM] NKXanP: while Protocol II says "children who have not attained the age of fifteen years 
shall neither be recruited in the armed forces or groups nor allowed to take part in hostilities"
[11:35 PM] NKXanP: which would imply that you can't use children at all in a battle

Specifically, most of the child soldier regulations in place today are defined outside of the Geneva Convention, and given as we can't even really confirm the existence of a Geneva Convention in the Sonic world, I wasn't about to use another treaty in this mess.

[11:36 PM] NKXanP: of course, all of this complaining is really for naught, since the Resistance 
could just argue that the only "child" they specifically used in battle was Amy, and that she can 
hold her own because she has a fuckign hammer
[11:36 PM] NKXanP: especially with how they flanderized Tails into being a coward who's afraid of 
his own shadow
[11:36 PM] remmie: yeah shdnshfhhshf
[11:36 PM] NKXanP: (Like, seriously, he beat Chaos 4. How the hell is he scared of Chaos 0)
[11:37 PM] remmie: because sega was a p u s s y
[11:37 PM] remmie: when writing sonic forces
[11:37 PM] NKXanP: also doesn't Classic Sonic literally beat Chaos 0 in one hit
[11:38 PM] remmie: yep
[11:38 PM] remmie: in a cutscene
[11:38 PM] NKXanP: like, nevermind the fact that it took modern Sonic a few hits to take down Chaos 
0, Classic Sonic just ends him in one hit, which makes Tails' fear of it that much more stupid
[11:40 PM] remmie: im gonna go offline for a while- writing and then probably a nap

And that's how a Sonic fanfiction Discord server discussed war crimes for an hour.