Yangon, 30 November 2015 –The Government of Myanmar today released 53 children and young people who have been recruited and used by the Armed Forces. With this latest release, the total number of children discharged in 2015 reached 146.
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 welcomes this discharge, while 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,” says 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 calls 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 criminalize use and recruitment, whether committed by military personnel or civilians, reinforcing the age assessment procedures within the military recruitment process, and 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 Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict.
“The signature of the protocol is a crucial step towards a child-free army”, says Bertrand Bainvel, 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.”
In 2007, in addition to the Tatmadaw, seven non-state armed groups in Myanmar, were named on the UN Secretary-General’s list of parties to conflict who recruit and use children.
The UN has started dialogue with several of these seven ethnic armed groups to discuss the possibility of signing action plans to end and prevent the recruitment and use of children under 18. “We call on all those listed in the Secretary-General report to commit to end the recruitment and use of children and welcome the opportunity to work with them to bring lasting peace in Myanmar”, says Renata Lok-Dessallien. “Children don’t belong in the military, and all parties have the duty to end children’s suffering from on-going conflicts in Myanmar”, adds Bertrand Bainvel.
* All young people released were children under 18 at the time of the signing of the Joint Action Plan in June 2012.
In addition to the Tatmadaw, there are seven non-state armed groups listed by the UN Secretary-General as being “persistent perpetrators” in the recruitment and use of children in Myanmar. They are the:
1. Democratic Karen Benevolent Army (DKBA)
2. Kachin Independence Army (KIA)
3. Karen National Liberation Army (KNLA)
4. Karen National Liberation Army Peace Council
5. Karenni Army (KA)
6. Shan State Army South (SSA-S)
7. United Wa State Army (UWSA)
ABOUT THE UN COUNTRY TASKFORCE ON MONITORING AND REPORTING (CTFMR) ON GRAVE VIOLATIONS AGAINST CHILDREN
United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Resolution 1612 mandates the UN to establish UN-led CTFMRs in countries where there is verified evidence that Grave Violations against children are being committed by parties to a conflict, either by armed forces and/or by armed groups. The CTFMR is tasked with establishing a Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism (MRM) which documents, verifies and reports to the UNSC on Grave Violations against children. The six Grave Violations monitored and reported are:
• killing or maiming of children
• recruitment and use of children in armed forces and armed groups
• attacks against schools or hospitals
• rape or other grave sexual violence
• abduction of children
• denial of humanitarian access for children.
The CTFMR is also mandated to provide a coordinated response to such Grave Violations. The CTFMR was established in Myanmar in 2007 and is co-Chaired by the UN Resident Coordinator and the UNICEF Representative in Yangon. The CTFMR in Myanmar includes relevant UN agencies (ILO, UNFPA, UNHCR, UNICEF, UN OCHA, the UN RCO and WFP), Save the Children and World Vision.
In November 2013, UNICEF supported the Myanmar Government to launch a nation-wide campaign to raise awareness on its population on its commitment to end use and recruitment of Children by Tatmadaw. As part of this campaign, and on behalf of CTFMR, UNICEF and World Vision are managing 2 hotlines (09-421166701 and 09-4211667020) where anyone can alert and report suspected cases of children being recruited or used by the Tatmadaw.
For more information please contact:
Mariana Palavra, Communication Specialist, Advocacy, Partnerships and Communication Section, UNICEF Myanmar, 09795452618, firstname.lastname@example.org
Htet Htet Oo, Communication Officer, Advocacy, Partnerships and Communication Section, UNICEF Myanmar, 09250075238, email@example.com