Child Soldiers or Victims?

In relation to this, it bears mentioning that the UNICEF in 2005 appealed to the United Nations Security Council to do more to protect the rights of children affected by armed conflict This following UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s submission of a report to the Security Council calling for targeted measures against those who violate children’s rights. The UNICEF said that the UN Security Council should make a ruling that that peace deals and amnesties should not extend, in any circumstances, to those who commit “egregious crimes” against children. The government’s bloody record of extrajudicial killings of children is more than enough reason, as the 2nd Permanent People’s Tribunal (PPT) Second Session on the Philippines declared, to denounce the inclusion of the Republic of the Philippines in the UN Human Rights Council as ‘unacceptable.’

At the immediate, human rights groups and children’s rights advocacy organizations demand that decisive steps must be initiated to bring the perpetrators of the EJKs of children and minors to justice. The government’s armed forces must be made to cease and desist from further committing atrocities against children, respect their rights as well as the fundamental human rights of all Filipinos. Human rights groups hold the government accountable for the destruction of these children’s lives, and the overall worsening of the human rights situation in the country.

Finally, another issue that should be immediately addressed is the need for the rights of children to be discussed in the joint meetings between the two monitoring committees of the Joint Monitoring Committee (JMC) of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GPH) and the NDFP.

It has been five years since the TWG of the PNP and the AFP released its report on children human rights victims. Five years since, children’s rights groups said, the government has not given any positive response to calls for justice for the children who were killed as a result of the armed conflict.

Now, under Aquino, reports continue to come out regarding military operations in far-flung communities wherein civilians including children are subjected to harassment and other human rights violations.

Children’s rights advocacy groups assert that genuine, thorough, and objective investigations into the cases of political killings of children and minors – as well the cases of harassment and general victimization of children by military and paramilitary elements — should be immediately initiated and pursued until they are justly resolved and the perpetrators are punished.

Based on principles of International Humanitarian Law and International Human Rights, “children in armed conflict” do not only refer to children who are made combatants or who have taken part in hostilities as soldiers, but also those who are caught in the middle of wars. There are many, many more children who have fallen victim to emotional/psychological stress from the trauma and effects of the GRP’s total war on families and communities.

There is no questioning the duty of every enlightened government to protect and provide for the needs of its citizens, including their children. The performance of this duty is rightly regarded as one of the most important of governmental functions, but there is much to be desired in how the government performs this function. (

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