More than a thousand children became adults while fighting in
Colombia’s violent conflict. Both paramilitaries and guerrillas dragged
children into the war, some no older than nine years old.
According to a report that was published by newspaper El Espectador, the Justice and Peace unit of Colombia’s Prosecutor General’s Office is investigating 366 cases of the recruitment of minors by the former AUC. Paramilitaries already confessed 654 cases of the recruitment of minors.
So far, the Elmar Cárdenas Bloc of the AUC seemed to be least hesitant to recruit minors. Fredy ‘El Aleman’ Herrera admitted 400 children were recruited under his leadership, but the confessions by paramilitaries are still ongoing and new cases of child recruitment may be discovered.
Another 2,500 children escaped the war and surrendered to authorities to enroll in programs to reintegrate them.
In total, nearly 4,000 children are registered to have fought in Colombia’s violent conflict, the report says.
Some NGO’s say this number is much higher. Some estimate tens of thousands of children took part in the war.
More than a thousand paramilitaries and guerrillas currently enrolled in demobilization programs turned 18 while being enrolled in the ranks of the illegal armed groups. They are now prosecuted as adults according to the country’s Justice and Peace law.