Kids worst-hit in conflict: AI report

Himalayan News Service

Kathmandu, July 26:

Amnesty International in its recent report has said the armed conflict has killed many children while thousands have been victims of violence and human rights abuses. The international human rights watchdog’s report has expressed grave concern over the impact of conflict on children and grave human rights violations and abuses against them by the state and the Maoists. AI’s report titled ‘Nepal: Children caught in the conflict’, which was released globally today, has highlighted several cases of extra-judicial and indiscriminate killings of children by both the warring factions. “Such reports raise concerns that in addition to committing grave human rights violations of extra-judicial killings, security forces do not distinguish between adult and child combatants or suspects,” the report said. The rebels have also “deliberately” killed children, it said.

However, the exact figures of child casualties in the last nine years of the armed conflict are not known. Hundreds of children have died from mines, bombs and improvised explosive devices used by both the parties. Children suspected of being “affiliated” to the Maoists are detained and “often held incommunicado,” said the report. AI highlighted cases of rape by security forces emphasising the conflict has “exasperated” sexual exploitation, producing new forms of sexual violence. The report added that the state-sponsored village defence forces’ violent attacks in the name of retaliation against the Maoists have increased sexual violence against children. The report highlighted abduction of school children by rebels as a major concern. The rights body urged the government to abide by its obligations under the Convention on the Rights of the Child and implement the recommendations of UN Committee on the Rights of the Child.

The rights body in its report also urged the state to end impunity regarding violations of human rights of children and of international humanitarian laws by security forces and conduct independent investigations of such abuses. The AI called on the government to ensure that “children are not held accountable, detained or charged under anti-terrorist legislation, and those under 18 years of age are not arrested by the Royal Nepalese Army.”

It demanded the government criminalise the use of children for military purposes by armed groups. It also urged the Maoists to instruct the cadres to respect international humanitarian law and respect and promote child rights and make efforts to “minimise” the impact of armed conflict on children. It called on the Maoists to stop recruiting and using children for military activities, including spying and carrying messages and end abduction of children. AI urged the rebels to release children in their control, investigate human rights abuses and punish the guilty.