Myanmar "still recruits child soldiers" despite reforms

Featured Politics South East Asia - January 24th, 2013
thumb

Myanmar is still recruiting and using child solders despite embracing sweeping democratic reforms, according to a new report.

London-based advocacy group Child Soldiers International said Wednesday that the Burmese military is still recruiting children to work in armed forces and called for “profound reforms” in the army, citing a UN agreement signed by the government last year aimed at putting an end to underaged military recruitment.

“Political reforms have led to some progress in the security and human rights situation in Myanmar,” Child Soldiers International’s Director Richard Clarke said.

“The Myanmar government and the international community need to ensure that protection of children in armed conflict is provided the highest priority in this reform agenda”.

Child Soldiers International said the army had since freed 42 children and levels of child recruitment have declined. But the practice continues within the army, border guards, rebel groups as well as civilians and police because of the government’s failure to adopt effective safeguards.

“Myanmar officers and informal recruiting agents continue to use intimidation, coercion and physical violence to obtain new recruits, including under 18-s,” the report said.

The group recommended age verification mechanisms to counter age falsification but claimed it required “profound reforms”.