August 19, 2016

53 children released by Myanmar Army

Senior military officers and officials of UN agencies meet child soldiers. Photo: MNA
Senior military officers and officials of UN agencies meet child soldiers. Photo: MNA

UNICEF announced yesterday that the Government of Myanmar on Monday discharged 53 children and young people who had been recruited by the country’s Defence Services.
With this latest release, the total number of children discharged in 2015 reached 146, according to the UNICEF press release.
Since June 2012, when the Myanmar government signed a Joint Action Plan with the United Nations, 699 children have been released by the army.
The UN Country Task Force on Monitoring and Reporting (CTFMR) on Grave Violations against Children welcomed the mass discharge, while also stressing the need for the Government of Myanmar to continue making every effort to end the recruitment and use of children in its armed forces.
“Today’s release is the result of continued efforts of the Government of Myanmar and the Tatmadaw to put an end to the harmful practice of recruiting and using children. I am delighted to see these children and young people returning to their homes and families,” said Renata Lok-Dessallien, the United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Myanmar and co-chair of the CTFMR.
“We are hopeful that institutional checks that have been put in place and continued efforts will ensure that recruitment of children will exist no more.”
The CTFMR has called on the government to accelerate essential remaining steps, particularly by adopting legal measures in the re-drafted Child Law that are necessary to prohibit and criminalise the use and recruitment of children, whether committed by military personnel or civilians, by reinforcing age-assessment procedures within the military recruitment process and by including the prevention of violations against children in the military curriculum.
Since the signature of the Joint Action Plan, important actions have been taken, namely the centralisation of the recruitment, and the signature in September of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict.
“The signature of the protocol is a crucial step toward a child-free army,” said Bertrand Bainvel, the UNICEF Representative to Myanmar and co-chair of the CTFMR. “Now it is urgent that Myanmar ratifies the protocol. Along with the review and the adoption of the revised Child Law, this would be one of the most important legacies the outgoing parliament has the opportunity to leave to new generations in Myanmar.”


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