HRW: South Sudan government recruiting child soldiers

HRW: South Sudan government recruiting child soldiers

[JURIST] South Sudan government forces are recruiting child soldiers [press release], Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website]. A UN report has documented the use of more than 561 child soldiers since the beginning of the conflict. Daniel Bekele, the Africa director at HRW, stated that government forces are taking children from right outside the UN compound. In May opposition leader Riek Machar signed an agreement with the UN special representative of the secretary-general for children to stop the use of child soldiers and take all necessary measures to prevent further use. In June the Sudanese government made a commitment to have a child-free army. South Sudan’s 2008 Child Act forbids the use of child soldiers under the age of 18. However, HRW says the use of child soldiers has persisted. When HRW officials visited in late January they documented 25 accounts of child soldier recruitment. Bekele stated that both sides need to stop recruiting child soldiers and hold those responsible accountable for their actions.

The South Sudanese Civil War [JURIST backgrounder] has persisted since December 2013 when President Salva Kirr accused his ex-vice-president, Machar, of plotting to overthrow him. In early February the UN reported [JURIST report] continued rights violations just when the groups were on the brink of signing a peace deal. In January the UN reported attacks [JURIST report] on civilians based on ethnicity and political beliefs in Sudan that amounted to several war crimes. In August in a briefing before the UN Security Council, Assistant Secretary-General for UN Peacekeeping Operations Edmond Mulet [UN News Centre report] discussed the ongoing humanitarian crisis in South Sudan, describing it as a “man-made crisis” [JURIST report], putting South Sudan on the “brink of a humanitarian catastrophe and a protracted internal conflict.”