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Click here for Lao version/ຄລິກບ່ອນນີ້ເພື່ອອ່ານພາສາລາວ
According to the 2009 Trafficking in Persons Report issued by the U.S. State
Department, "Child soldiering is a unique and severe manifestation of
trafficking in persons that involves the unlawful recruitment of children -
often through force, fraud, or coercion - for labor or sexual exploitation in
conflict areas." And while the majority of unlawful child soldiers are 15
to 18 years old, children as young as 7 or 8 have been used in hostilities.
The UN Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the
involvement of children in armed conflict has been ratified by 128 countries.
It requires States Parties from ensuring no child under 18 is compulsorily
recruited into governmental armed forces or takes a direct part in hostilities.
It also requires States Parties to raise the age of voluntary recruitment of
children into governmental armed forces to an age above 15 and to put into
place specific safeguards to ensure such recruitment is truly voluntary.
In addition, States Parties are obligated to take all feasible measures to prevent
recruitment and use of those under 18 in armed groups distinct from the armed
forces of a state. Therefore the Optional Protocol works to ensure that certain
children, depending on their age and manner of recruitment, are not only
prevented from being used as child soldiers that carry and use arms, but are
also prevented from being used as cooks, porters and messengers in armed forces
Although it is not possible to accurately calculate the number of children
involved in armed conflict, unlawful child soldiering is a global phenomenon.
The problem is most critical in Africa and Asia, but nearly always, where there
is armed conflict, there are unlawful child soldiers. Children are often
abducted, or at times sold, to be used as combatants. In addition to
participating in combat-related activities, child soldiers are sometimes forced
to engage in hazardous activities such as laying mines, and are frequently
killed or wounded. Some have been forced to commit atrocities, and most suffer
psychological scarring. Both male and female child soldiers are often sexually
abused and are at high risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases.
The sale and trafficking of children and their entrapment in any form must be
eradicated, but none more so than their unlawful recruitment for labor or
sexual exploitation in conflict areas. All nations must work together with
international organizations and non-governmental organizations to take urgent
action to disarm, demobilize and reintegrate unlawful child soldiers.