Newscast Media NEW YORK—Human Rights Watch (HRW) says the foreign-backed
militant groups in Syria recruit children to fight in battles, warning the militants and
their foreign supporters that the move constitutes “war crimes.”
The human rights organization said in a report on Monday that the militants are using
“children as young as 15 to fight in battles,” adding that some militant groups recruit
teenagers “under the guise of offering education.”
HRW interviewed 25 child soldiers fighting for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant
(ISIL), the so-called Free Syrian Army, the Islamic Front, al-Nusra Front and Kurdish
The children said they participated in battles, manned checkpoints, spied, worked as
snipers, and carried supplies to the front line. Many of the children said they joined
the militant groups to follow their family and friends, while others said they were
recruited after attending anti-government protests.
The exact number of the children fighting along with the militant groups in Syria is not
known. A foreign-backed opposition organization, the Violations Documentation
Centre, said that 194 “non-civilian” children have been killed in the conflict since
HRW also called on the foreign supporters of the militant groups to urge an end to the
recruitment of children, saying “anyone providing funding for sending children to war
could be complicit in war crimes.”
Source: Press TV
Newscast Media WASHINGTON—United Nations child rights experts today hailed a new
treaty that allows children to complain directly to the world body about alleged
violations of their rights.
The treaty, known as the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the
Child on a Communications Procedure, entered into force today – three months after
Costa Rica became the 10th country to deposit its instrument of ratification.
“Today marks the beginning of a new era for children’s rights,” said Kirsten Sandberg,
Chairperson of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child; Marta Santos Pais, the
Secretary-General’s Special Representative on Violence against Children; Leila
Zerrougui, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Children and Armed
Conflict; and Najat Maalla M’jid, UN Special Rapporteur on the sale of children, child
prostitution and child pornography. CONTINUE TO FULL STORY>>
Newscast Media NEW YORK—The UN’s top humanitarian official has announced
evidence of mass atrocities by both sides in South Sudan’s conflict. A political dispute
that began in December has led to ethnic bloodshed and mass displacement.
Ivan Simonovic, UN assistant secretary-general for human rights, cited child soldiers,
mass killings, extrajudicial executions, arbitrary detentions and sexual violence in a
press conference on Friday as he wrapped up a four-day visit to the South Sudan.
He also called for a fact-finding commission to investigate the crimes and hold those
responsible accountable. Simonovic did not call the month-long fighting a civil war but
an “internal armed conflict” with ethnic dimensions between the Dinka and Nuer tribes.
“Quite a number of child soldiers have been recruited in the so-called White Army,” he
said, referring to a militia fighting in Jonglei state. “We are thoroughly investigating
According to the UN, 468,000 civilians have fled their homes as the violence spiraled
into ethnic killings between members of President Salva Kiir’s Dinka people – the
country’s largest group – and the Nuer community backing Riek Machar. UN officials
fear the conflict could lead to more than 100,000 refugees by the end of January.
“It is punishable not only to command and commit crime but to not prevent them
when you could and should have,” Simonovic said.
Kuol Manyang Juuk of Sudan told Reuters news agency that South Sudan had
requested help from its neighbor Uganda.
“We have requested support from Uganda,” Juuk said. “It is not a new situation,
countries seek support from other countries whenever they are in trouble.”
The two sides have attempted to negotiate a ceasefire deal at a luxury hotel in the
Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, but agreements have proved elusive. Rebel demands
include that Ugandan troops deployed in South Sudan stop supporting government
forces in combat.
On Friday, the European Union announced that it would provide 1.1 million euros ($1.4
million) to support the talks to stop South Sudan from “descending into a civil war.”
Source: Deutsche Welle
Newscast Media WASHINGTON, D.C.—Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton announced that the United States will join a campaign to stop child marriage by the year 2030. Clinton made the announcement before an audience of Girl Scouts, invited to the State Department in recognition of the International Day of the Girl, a U.N. commemoration set for October 11.
The secretary began began her remarks by describing a “very brave” Pakistani girl, Malala Yousufzai. She has achieved wide recognition for her assertion of girls’ rights to education, but was shot October 9 in an attack by extremists opposed to the education of women. Clinton said, “Yesterday’s attack reminds us of the challenges that girls face, whether it’s poverty or marginalization or even violence, just for speaking out for their basic rights.”
Each year, 10 million girls under 18 are forced into marriage, Clinton said, “which robs them of the opportunity to continue education, and it threatens health and traps them in lives of poverty.”
The campaign “Girls Not Brides: the Global Partnership to End Child Marriage” is championed by The Elders, a group of internationally known leaders who work together for global peace and justice. South Africa’s Archbishop Desmond Tutu is chairman of the group, which includes former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan and former Irish President Mary Robinson.
Tutu joined Clinton at the State Department for the event, speaking to the audience of girls with a mix of tenderness, admiration and inspiration.
“Without women the world faces perdition, destruction. We need you, we need you to save us,” Tutu said.
“Dream of a different world, where every child has access to clean water, and every child has enough food to eat. We want to make poverty history; we want to make child marriage history,” he added.