Unicef and the International Committee of the Red Cross have demanded the release of over 80 child soldiers imprisoned by the government of Chad. The child soldiers fought for the rebel Union of Resistance Forces (UFR) against the Chadian army in Am Dam, eastern Chad.
The child soldiers were arrested after last month’s bloody battle between the rebellion army and the Chadian army and have now been transferred to a jail in Chad’s capital city of N’Djamena.
Chad signed the 2007 Paris Engagements on the protection of children which obliges them to prevent the recruitment of child soldiers, but a recent Unicef report claims that child soldiers are employed by the Chadian Military, the Union of Resistance Forces, the United Front for Democratic Change (an integrated rebel group), the Tora Boro militias (a local self-defense force) , and two Sudanese rebel movements operating in Chad – the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) and the G-19 faction of the Sudanese Liberation Army (SLA).
Unicef have demanded and received access to the imprisoned child soldiers and the United Nations is working towards their release and rehabilitation. The child soldiers are often used in support roles such as porters, spies, messengers, look outs, sex slaves and as human shield.
Most of the child soldiers are reported to be of ages below 15: The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, Article 38, (1989) proclaimed: “State parties shall take all feasible measures to ensure that persons who have not attained the age of 15 years do not take a direct part in hostilities.”
Since the 1970s a number of international conventions have come into effect that try to limit the participation of children in armed conflicts, but the Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers reports that the use of children in military forces, and the active participation of children in armed conflicts is rampant.