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Somalia signs UN-backed plan to end use of child soldiers

The Transitional Federal Government of Somalia [CFR backgrounder] on Wednesday signed an action plan [press release, PDF] to be implemented with the goal of ending the recruitment of child soldiers in the region. Somali Deputy Prime Minister Hussein Arab Isse signed the action plan, which is backed by the UN Political Office for Somalia (UNPOS) [official website], at a meeting of the International Contact Group on Somalia in Rome. Full compliance with the terms of the plan will result in the Government of Somalia being removed from the UN Secretary-General's list of parties who recruit and use children. Under the plan, the Government of Somalia is committed to:

1) Ending and preventing the recruitment and use of children in Somalia's National Armed Forces; 2) With the support of the United Nations, reintegrating all children released from Armed Forces; 3) Criminalizing the recruitment and use of children through national legislation; [and] 4) Providing the UN with unimpeded access to military installations to verify the presence of children.
The plan is specifically aimed toward an end to the recruitment and use of children by the Somali National Armed Forces. The Government of Somalia has committed to signing a second action plan to protect children from being killed and maimed sometime this month.

In February, Somalia [DOS backgrounder; JURIST news archive] reached an agreement [JURIST report] at the Garowe II Constitutional Conference [Garowe Online report] to organize diplomats and establish a federal constitution. However, Somalia has been under heavy criticism for human rights violations. In August, Human Rights Watch (HRW) advocacy website] accused [JURIST report] parties in the Somalia conflict to be involved in abuses of citizens and urged them to cease all of such activities immediately. In July, Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] release [JURIST report] a report which alleged that children continued to be victims of the conflict. In the 2010 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices [materials] however, noted [JURIST report] progress in Somalia for human rights. In 2009, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile] said [JURIST report] that human rights violations committed during Somalian conflicts may amount to war crimes [press release].

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