Thursday, August 15, 2019

Recruitment of minors for armed struggle unlawful: CHR

From the Philippine News Agency (Aug 15, 2019): Recruitment of minors for armed struggle unlawful: CHR

SHIELDING THE YOUTH. The 61st Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army conducts peace symposium in schools to protect youth from the recruitment of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army. The Commission of Human Rights in Western Visayas said recruitment of persons below 18 years of age to join the armed movement is unlawful. (Photo courtesy of 61IB)

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) in Western Visayas on Thursday said the recruitment of individuals below 18 years old for armed struggle violates international and domestic laws.

Although the CHR-6 has not received any formal report on the recruitment of minors in armed conflict, Christopher Montaño, information officer of CHR 6, said they had monitored the recruitment activities of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) through mass media.

“If we based it on the Geneva Convention and our domestic laws, recruiting minors in the armed conflict is a violation because children should never be involved in armed conflict situations,”
Montaño said in a phone interview.

The International Humanitarian Law (IHL) states that 15 years and up can join the armed movement but Republic Act 7610 provides “stronger deterrence and special protection against child abuse, exploitation, and discrimination” disallows persons below 18 to join the armed movement.

Montaño stressed that children, as "zones of peace", should be protected and should not be at any cost exposed to the culture of violence.

RA 7610 stipulates that “children shall not be an object of attack and shall be entitled to special respect. They shall be protected from any form of threat, assault, torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.”

“That is why the recruitment of youth to be used as spies, couriers, and guides of both the Armed Forces of the Philippine and the CPP-NPA is prohibited by law,” he said.

Last July, the 3rd Infantry Division of the Philippine Army has discovered that the CPP-NPA’s Eastern Front recruits children aged 10 to 14.

“Mostly they recruit minors aged 10 to 14. This is alarming because these minors are supposed to be attending school but the rebels are ruining their future,” Lt. Hazel Durotan, Civil-Military Operations (CMO) officer of the Army’s 61st Infantry Battalion recently shared to the media.

She said cellular phones recovered from the July 5 encounter at President Roxas town in Capiz province were inspected by information technology personnel and has provided the Army with such information.

Montaño, meanwhile, said the CHR-6 has yet to receive such a report.

He assured the issue will “warrant an investigation” should it be brought to their office.

The CPP-NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines.

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