Recruitment of child soldiers persists in DRC: UN report

[JURIST] UN Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict Leila Zerrougui [official profile] presented [press release] her fifth report on the situation of children affected by armed conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) [UN backgrounder] to the Security Council Working Group on children and armed conflict Monday. The UN has documented almost 4,200 cases of recruitment of boys and girls by both government and rebel forces between 2010 and 2013. According to the UN report, one-third of the cases involved children below the age of 15. Zerrougui warned that "the chronic instability in eastern DRC, the multiplicity of armed groups and the weakness of state authority have made children extremely vulnerable to all forms of conflict-related violence." Zerrougui's report also documented more than 900 cases of sexual violence against children. The UN report did contain some news of improvement, citing an Action Plan adopted by the DRC government in 2012 that has reined in recruitment and abuse by the DRC's military. The Special Representative warned that continued efforts must be made to combat impunity in order to ensure gains are made and maintained.

The DRC has been the site of considerable human rights abuses committed by both government forces and various rebel groups. In June the head of the UN Mission in the DRC strongly condemned [JURIST report] an outbreak of deadly violence in the eastern areas of the DRC, sparked by a confrontation over cattle. In May a military court for the DRC convicted [JURIST report] 39 soldiers charged with raping more than 130 women in the province of South Kivu. Another 24 soldiers were convicted of looting. In April a coalition of 146 Congolese and international human rights organizations released a joint declaration urging the DRC to create new mechanisms in its national justice system [JURIST report] for prosecuting war crimes. In April the UN Joint Human Rights Office in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (UNJHRO) released a report [JURIST report] detailing widespread sexual violence committed by government forces and rebel groups between January 2010 and December 2013 in the DRC.

 

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