CHR vows to continue probe on recruitment of child warriors

Published by rudy Date posted on February 12, 2021

By: Neil Arwin Mercado, INQINQUIRER.net, 12 Feb 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) vowed to continue its investigation on the alleged recruitment of children as warriors in areas of armed conflict, saying such acts constitute a war crime.

CHR spokesperson Jacqueline Ann de Guia made the remark on Friday during the celebration of the International Day against the Use of Child Fighters or Red Hand Day.

De Guia said it is “appalling” that children are still being recruited as warriors in areas of armed conflict.

“The trend is a cause for concern as children are continuously victimized for different reasons. Some are forced and abducted, while others are deceived or made to believe that joining an armed group is a chance for a better life,” De Guia said in a statement.

“In the field, children in armed conflicts also fulfill different roles—on the frontlines, acting as spies, lookouts, messengers, couriers, or running errands. Due to the involvement of children in armed conflict, most of them end up with physical disabilities, while others die or are seriously injured in crossfires,” she added.

De Guia said that employment of child fighters violates the International Humanitarian Law, which prohibits the recruitment and use of children in armed conflict and hostilities.

“In the Philippines, CHR has monitored and is continuously investigating cases of children in situations of armed conflict,” De Guia said.

“We have noted cases allegedly perpetrated by the New People’s Army where children are being harmed, killed, or seriously injured in armed battles, among others. We strongly condemn these acts,” she added.

Call for gov’t action, support

De Guia likewise called on the government to step-up its efforts to enforce pertinent laws to protect children from the said recruitment.

She said existing laws are in place such as Republic Act No. 7610 or the Special Protection of Children Against Abuse, Exploitation and Discrimination Act; RA 9851 or Philippine Act on Crimes Against International Humanitarian Law, Genocide, and Other Crimes Against Humanity; and RA 11188 or the Special Protection of Children in Situations of Armed Conflict Act.

“In the end, while there is a higher obligation from the government to ensure respect and protection of everyone’s rights, groups and individuals also bear the duty to protect them at all times and in all situations,” De Guia said.

“CHR will continue to rally for this cause and will continue to investigate cases of child fighters—may these allegations come from the government or rebel groups—in line with our duty as an independent national human rights institution,” she added.

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