This article considers the first two trial, and corresponding first two appeal, judgments issued by the Special Court for Sierra Leone in what are commonly referred to as the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC) and Civil Defence Forces (CDF) cases. These judgments are noteworthy for having been the first to adjudicate at the international level the war crime of conscription or enlistment of children under the age of fifteen or using them to participate actively in hostilities and the gender-based crime against humanity of forced marriage. Beginning with the issue of child soldiers, this article explores how the Special Court addressed the applicable elements of crime, the abduction of children, the role of initiation within the act of conscription or enlistment of child soldiers, and the definition of use of children to participate actively in hostilities. The second part of this article discusses how the AFRC judgments addressed the crime against humanity of forced marriage. In comparison, the CDF Trial Chamber avoided consideration of this crime, and the Appeals Chamber’s partial criticism of this approach could not correct the negative silence created within the Special Court’s record of gender-based atrocities by the CDF. The article concludes that the AFRC and CDF judgments raise issues that require further consideration. For example, what is the legal linkage between abductions and child soldier recruitment, and how does one distinguish between active and non-active participation of children under fifteen in hostilities? These judgments also point to the dangers involved in misunderstanding a gender-based crime such as forced marriage solely as a crime of a sexual nature, and the way in which a trial record can be irrevocably altered by the unbalanced exclusion of gender-based crimes.