South Sudan gov’t re-commits to eliminate child soldiers
By Sheila Ponnie
The Minister of Defense and Veteran Affairs has ordered commanders of organized forces at various training centers across the country to respect laws that protect abuse of children, including recruitment of child soldiers.
Apart from child acts, 2008, the government of South Sudan rectified several laws including Optimal Protocols to the Convention on the Rights of the Child to ensure persons under 18 are protected against all forms of abuses in the country.
Earlier this year in February, the Government of South Sudan and different armed groups in the country signed a comprehensive Action as further commitment to end and prevent all grave violations against children.
“There are laws protecting children, South Sudan rectified so anyone who is under 18 is not allowed to be part of the army. It is everyone’s responsibility, parents and leaders to ensure no child soldier is condoned,” said Angelina.
She made the order during her recent visit to Jonglei in one of the training centers at Panyeir village, accompanied by senior government official including Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and commanders. The Minster of Defense’s tour to several training centers in the country was supported by Ceasefire Transitional Security Arrangement Monitoring and Verification Mechanism CTSAMVM
CTSAMVM’s role is to monitor compliance by the signatory Parties and armed groups, either under their control or invited to support them, to the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan (R-ARCSS)
Angelina instructed commanders to screen any suspected person under 18 and return them to their families to avoid prove by the world that child soldiers still exist in South Sudan.
South Sudan’s Child Act, 2008 and other international protocols define any person under the age of 18 as child and provide for their protection against all forms of abuses including forced labor and recruitment into armed combatant.
The Minister of Interior last month identified recruitment of child into armed combatant as one of the human trafficking that exist in the country including child marriage and forced marriage.
“Any person suspected to be under the age of eighteen years old (18) should be verified with their parents or go to the hospital to find out the date of the birth, “she said.
According to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), South Sudan, both the international and South Sudan national law, the forcible or voluntary recruitment of persons under the age of 18, whether as a member of a regular army or as informal militia, is prohibited